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Aston’s Valkyrie will provide “racing that people want to see”
Andy Palmer tells us more about the car Aston will race in Le Mans’ new top class
“We’ve been campaigning for a long time to say we need cars that people can be passionate about, cars that people can recognise on the road.”
The words of Aston Martin boss Andy Palmer, as he announced that his racing team will fight for outright Le Mans 24 Hours victory in 2021 with its Valkyrie, all thanks to new regulations that’ll transform the LMP1 class next summer.
“It’s been a two-year study but it seems to have got very intense in the last few weeks. To be able to race hypercars – whether it’s the Valkyrie against the LaFerrari, 918 and P1 [or their equivalents] – that’s the kind of racing that people want to see in the top class of racing.
“It’s been a long road, there’s been a lot of controversy around it, but finally the ACO have decided that’s the way they want to go. They’ll adopt the ‘Balance of Performance’ principles in the top class and the new regulations will apply from season 2020/21.”
This is where things might get a little trickier to swallow, as BoP is infamous for buggering up some teams’ races. Indeed, after Aston put its Vantage on pole in the GTE Pro class for Le Mans 2019, BoP saw the car’s boost wound down leading it to drop down the standings within hours of the race start. Whether BoP’s principles will evolve for the new hypercar class we’ll see in time.
A bittersweet weekend for Aston, then, as it marked 60 years since its sole outright victory around La Sarthe. “We’d like to have the opportunity and chance to reflect on what our predecessors did in 1959 and go for top honours with the Valkyrie,” continued Palmer. “Performance and speed will demonstrate the Valkyrie pedigree in Formula 1 but the engineering quality, durability and reliability will be proven in a 24-hour race.”
No word on who’ll drive the Valkyrie come the 2020/21 season, but Palmer told Top Gear last week he has “no doubt we will be inundated with people who want to come racing”. Aston’s current GTE Pro level driver line-up all seem enthused, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Aston parachute in drivers proven at LMP1 level, themselves often brought in from Formula 1 level.
Worth keeping an eye on who’s in the twilight of their F1 career by that point, then. Or, now that Le Mans no longer clashes with any Grands Prix, perhaps it could mean a rather exciting secondment for Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly (or whoever Aston Martin Red Bull happens to be employing this time next year), though they’d be unable to complete the whole World Endurance Championship season.
Who do you want to see racing Valkyries around Le Mans? And how enthused are you to hear a nat-asp V12 howling around La Sarthe in the twilight hours?