Aston Martin Valkyrie will race in new hypercar Le Mans category in 2021
The hypercar class replaces LMP1.
Aston Martin confirmed it will send the Valkyrie to the 2021 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The model will compete in a hypercar class that the race's sanctioning body, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), is in the process of creating to replace the top LMP1 category that a majority of automakers have left.
The category's rules will allow manufacturers to race with cars that look more like production models than the LMP1s, which were all prototypes by definition. Aston Martin's entry will look like an Aston Martin, in other words. Cars entered in the hypercar category will need to weigh under 2,160 pounds, and manufacturers will be allowed to use active aerodynamic technology.
"We have always said that we would one day bring Aston Martin back to Le Mans with the intention of going for the outright win when the time was right. Now is that time," said company boss Andy Palmer in a statement.
The Le Mans-spec Valkyrie will be powered by an evolution of the production model's high-revving V12 engine modified for racing. It will keep its carbon fiber skin to slip under the 2,160-pound limit. Additional details remain up in the air, and Aston has plenty of time to fine-tune the details. The firm is committed to entering at least two cars in the 2020/2021 season of the World Endurance Championship (WEC), which includes the famous 24-hour race.
It's too early to tell precisely who else will be on the starting grid in 2021. We'd bet on seeing Ferrari and McLaren take on Aston Martin for Le Mans bragging rights, but the looser regulations that make racing more affordable could draw additional competitors, and the field might end up being much wider than LMP1 ever was.