Aston Martin Stalls Le Mans Racer; WEC Hypercar Class Pathetically Small

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
aston martin stalls le mans racer wec hypercar class pathetically small

Aston Martin is canceling is mid-engined Valkyrie racer and stalling EV development until 2025 as it reassess both the racing and industry landscapes. The Valkyrie was originally scheduled to commence its racing career in Silverstone this fall, before moving on to the main event — the 24 Hours of Le Mans — in 2021. Now, the company says it will halt development on the racer while it reorganizes under new investor Lawrence Stroll (Red Bull is out) and the Racing Point F1 team.

This appears to leave Toyota as the only big-boy factory team participating in the LM Hypercar division for its introductory season. Despite assurances that factory LMP1 teams had an interest in the class, they haven’t been clamoring to get involved. Peugeot and Glickenhaus are technically still in the running, though neither appear to have expended the same kind of cash as Toyota or Aston and are likewise presumed to pull out before the season starts.

This must be confusing for the FIA, as Hypercar was seen by the World Endurance Championship as an affordable alternative to P1 while also allowing manufacturers to adhere more closely to signature body styles that the prototypes would allow. It was assumed automakers would love this, as it allowed for more direct marketing ins and some overlap with the prototype cars.

In the case of Aston Martin, the Valkyrie was supposed to play directly into all of Hypercar’s presumed strengths. The model was set for its racing debut at Silverstone in August of this year, ahead of its entry in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2021, but the company also imagined it being sold to customers in a slightly less aggressive format. That part of the plan has apparently gone unchanged, though its racing days may have ended before they had a chance to begin. Instead, Aston wants to focus on the GTE Class, sticking with the Vantage that delivered four GTE Pro class victories and two GTE Am wins since 2018.

“With such momentous change taking place in sportscar racing, the decision to pause our entry into the WEC Hypercar class gives us the time and breathing space to calmly assess the status of the top level of the sport, and our place within it.” explained Aston Martin vice president David King.

“Competing against our closest rivals on the road in GT racing makes perfect sense. Vantage is winning in some of the most fiercely contested sportscar classes in global motorsport, and long may this continue.”

Valkyrie deliveries are expected this fall, with customers gaining a 6.5-liter V12 amidships and an electric motor mounted at the front. Combined, the duo are said to make a tidy 1,160 horsepower. If you’ve any interest in taking out several loans in order to drive one before it bankrupts you, don’t bother. They’ve all been spoken for. However, Aston Martin is still planning on building its little brother, the Valhalla, which relies upon a high strung turbocharged six-cylinder motor (with KERS). It’s also bound for limited production (capped at 500 units) when assembly begins in 2021, though it should be priced to match the cost of only one luxury mansion at around $1.4 million.

That’s assuredly welcome news for mega rich individuals hoping to enjoy a handful of track days in 2022. But what’s with all the Nordic names on these new models? Isn’t Aston Martin still based in Warwickshire?

[Images: Aston Martin]

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  • Morea Morea on Feb 21, 2020

    “Competing against our closest rivals on the road in GT racing makes perfect sense." This is good to hear. Fans don't want Aston Martin to leave sports car racing completely. Sports car racing needs to stick to racing modified road cars. It shouldn't try to compete with F1 by making very expensive bespoke prototypes. The number of fans/viewers is not large enough to support teams spending $150+ million a year on 10 races (even if one of them is the 24 hours of Le Mans.) Hypercars were just expensive prototypes with the hint of being road legal cars. Splitting the difference solved neither the spectacle nor the cost problems.

  • TheEndlessEnigma That's right GM, just keep adding to that list of reasons why I will never buy your products. This, I think, becomes reason number 69, right after OnStar-Cannot-Be-Disabled-And-It-Comes-Standard-Whether-Or-Not-You-Want-It and Screw-You-American-Car-Buyer-We-Only-Make-Trucks-And-SUVs.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic Does this not sound and feel like the dawn of ICE automobiles in the early 20th century, but at double or triple speed speed!!There were a bunch of independent car markers by the late 1910’s. By the mid 20’s, we were dropping down to 10 or 15 producers as Henry was slashing the price of the Model T. The Great Depression hit, and we are down to the big three and several independents. For EVs, Tesla bolted out of the gate, the small three are in a mad dash to keep up. Europe was caught flat footed due to the VW scandal. Lucid, Lordstown, & Rivian are scrambling to up production to generate cash. Now the EV leader has taken a page from the Model T and is slashing prices putting the rest of the EV market in a tail spin. Deja vu……
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