With 1,130 horsepower at its disposal thanks to a 6.5-liter naturally aspirated V12 engine with a KERS-style electric drivetrain, the new Aston Martin Valkyrie is a highly potent machine on the road and even on the track. It will even be offered as the track-exclusive Aston Martin AMR Pro race car. A stint at the world’s oldest sports car endurance race – the 24 Hours or Le Mans – could be possible in the future for a racing version of the Valkyrie, according to Aston Martin chief executive Andy Palmer in an interview with Autocar magazine.
Racing at the Le Mans today would seem weird for a track-only version of the Aston Martin Valkyrie. The track-exclusive AMR Pro version of the Valkyrie has been tweaked – boasting more power and more aerodynamic devices – to deliver a kind of performance near to Formula One racers or Le Mans Prototype units. However, it cannot compete in the top class of the Le Mans – the LMP1 – as restricted by the current rules and regulations set by the motor racing’s governing body, the FIA.
Currently, FIA rules for the Le Mans – in particular the LMP1 category – only allow prototype racers to enter the event. The focus of the Le Mans or any other endurance race is on prototype racers, not relying on just speed, but also reliability and efficiency. This is why hybrid systems have recently become the overall winners of Le Mans’ top category. Since only prototype racers are allowed in the top class, there is no way for a race version of the Aston Martin Valkyrie to participate. After all, the Valkyrie is a road car but with amazing power, and any version based on it becomes a road-derived race car.
But things could change if FIA bends the rules to allow racing derivatives of road cars. Palmer told Autocar that Aston Martin will never compete in a prototype category, simply because the British carmaker doesn’t see its relevance to its auto-making efforts. But if FIA changes the rules to accommodate road-derived cars, Aston Martin is ready to compete. As Palmer noted, the participation of road-derived race cars would be in line with the history of sports cars and Le Mans racing. He added that the possibility of the Valkyrie competing against the McLaren P1 and LaFerrari would be interesting not just to him, but also to other people.
But it isn't far out that FIA would change the rules, considering the current situation in the world of endurance sports car racing. The LMP1 category had been exciting in the past years, with works like Audi, Nissan, Porsche and Toyota fielding their respective creations. However, carmakers had started leaving. Nissan left LMP1 in 2015 and Audi in 2016. This year, Porsche withdrew from prototype endurance racing. The 2018 season will see Toyota being the only works left.
With the sport in a state of disarray, Palmer was invited by FIA to discuss future regulations. Perhaps, FIA tried but failed to convince Palmer to have Aston Martin resume its prototype racing program in order to save the LMP1 category from ceasing to exist. Aston Martin used to compete in the LMP1 category of the Le Mans. Its last LMP1 racer -- the Aston Martin AMR-One – was discontinued in 2012 as the carmaker renewed its focus on its GT program.