Aston Martin have announced their plans to enter the Le Mans 24 Hours, using a racing prototype of the Valkyrie.
The British manufacturer will race at the Le Mans 24 Hours from 2025, with ‘at least’ one Valkyrie prototype confirmed for entry into the Hypercar class of both the FIA World Endurance Championship and the IMSA SportsCar Championship.
The prototype Valkyrie will thus race in all three of sportscar’s blue riband events: the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Aston Martin outline Valkyrie plans, and new GT3/GT4 platform
Aston Martin’s Valkyrie AMR Pro was designed to meet the LMH Hypercar regulations, and Aston Martin Performance Technologies – based at the AMR Technology Campus at the F1 headquarters at Silverstone – will begin evolving a competition prototype of the Valkyrie in order to ensure parity within a pre-defined window for competition in WEC, before being then homologated for use in the WEC Hypercar and IMSA GTP classes.
The WEC Valkyrie will run a modified Cosworth 6.5 litre naturally aspirated V12. This engine, in standard form, revs to 11,000rpm and develops over 1000bhp, with the power unit being enhanced to incorporate the Balance of Performance (BoP) requirements for Hypercar.
The engine will also be developed in order to withstand endurance, long-distance, competition, while the battery-electric hybrid systems on the road-going versions of the Valkyrie will be stripped out.
Once the car and engine are homologated for competition, the Heart of Racing team will lead Aston Martin’s charge in both WEC and IMSA, with the Valkyrie becoming the first ‘purebred’ hypercar to race in both series.
Entry into Hypercar also means that Aston Martin will have a presence at every level of endurance racing, thanks to the preparation of all-new GT3 and GT4 cars that will be based on the Vantage platform. These will conform to new GT rules, including the new 2024 LMGT3 regulations that will replace the outgoing GTE class in WEC.
From 2025, Aston Martin will be the only manufacturer racing in all levels of sportscar and GT Racing, from Hypercar down to GT4, as well as the Formula 1 World Championship.
Aston Martin Valkyrie – a project between Aston Martin and Red Bull
The Valkyrie road car began life as a collaborative effort between Aston Martin Lagonda – the F1 team’s parent company – and Red Bull’s Advanced Technologies branch. The hybrid sportscar’s design was overseen by Red Bull chief technical officer Adrian Newey, with team boss and RBAT CEO Christian Horner revealing that Newey had created an “incredible, incredible car, that almost bankrupted Aston Martin! But I mean, it is an absolute gem of a car.”
Red Bull’s influence has since diminished with Aston Martin striking out on their own, and Aston Martin chairman Lawrence Stroll hailed the arrival of the Valkyrie into Hypercar as going completely in tandem with the accomplishments of the F1 team that have taken a leap forward in performance this year.
“Performance is the lifeblood of everything that we do at Aston Martin, and motorsport is the ultimate expression of this pursuit of excellence,” he said.
“We have been present at Le Mans since the earliest days, and through those glorious endeavours we succeeded in winning Le Mans in 1959 and our class 19 times over the past 95 years. Now we return to the scene of those first triumphs aiming to write new history with a racing prototype inspired by the fastest production car Aston Martin has ever built.
“In addition to our presence in the Formula 1 World Championship, Aston Martin’s return to the pinnacle of endurance racing will allow us to build a deeper connection with our customers and community, many of whom found their passion for the brand through our past success at Le Mans.
“And of course, the complex knowledge base we are building through our F1 team is data that Aston Martin Performance Technologies can harness to further enhance the capabilities of the Valkyrie racecar at Le Mans, in WEC and IMSA.
“Just as the learnings we gain through endurance competition will feed directly into our road car programmes, further improving the ultimate performance of our products. I would like to thank Gabe Newell and Heart of Racing for partnering with Aston Martin on this programme, and I look forward to working with him and the team as we aim for success in the greatest endurance race of them all.”
Aston Martin have claimed 19 class wins at Le Mans since debuting in 1928, including an overall win in 1959, and team boss of Heart of Racing, Ian James, says all the ingredients are in place to try for another win.
“It’s a privilege to be able to bring Aston Martin back to the top of endurance racing with the Heart of Racing,” he said.
“Our team has grown exponentially since we began racing with those famous wings at Daytona in 2020. We understand and are aligned with the ethos of the brand and we have developed our own systems and technologies to extract the maximum performance of the cars we compete with. Our understanding of Valkyrie is strong and we have worked closely with it through our customer activation programmes for two years now.
“This HoR team has big ambitions in endurance racing and this is absolutely the right time for us to step into the top classes of WEC and IMSA and challenge for overall honours. This is not an easy target, but between our partners and the support of Aston Martin Performance Technologies, it is one we have all the tools and capabilities in place to hit the bullseye with.”