The Aston Martin Valkyrie promises to be one of the most extreme supercars ever. Developed in concert with the Red Bull Racing Formula One team, Aston promises performance to match today’s most sophisticated race cars. The automaker also intends to prove that statement is more than just hot air.
Aston wants to race the Valkyrie at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, CEO Andy Palmer said in an interview with Autocar. It’s an exciting prospect, putting Aston’s ultimate creation to the test in one of the world’s toughest and most legendary races. But there’s a problem.
Cars that race at Le Mans are currently divided into two categories: Prototypes and GT cars. Prototypes are purpose-built machines, while GT cars are modified production models. Aston actually won the top category for GT cars in 2017 and plans to return next year with a racing version of its new Vantage. But GT cars can’t vie for the overall win, and that is all Aston wants for the Valkyrie.
“My personal perspective is very clear: Aston Martin will never compete in a prototype category because it has no relevance to us,” Palmer said. “But if they allowed racing derivatives of road cars, that would be very interesting to us and, I suspect, the fans.”
Palmer envisions a top class in which the most extreme supercars, cars like the Valkyrie, McLaren P1, and Ferrari LeFerrari, compete for the overall win at Le Mans. It would more or less turn the clock back to the 1990s when cars like the Porsche 911 GT1 and Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR blurred the line between road cars and prototypes. That would require a change in the rules, but if that happened, it would open the door to Aston’s first overall win at Le Mans since 1959.
Changing the rules just so one car can race may seem a bit far-fetched, but Le Mans and the attached FIA World Endurance Championship are in a state of flux right now. Now that Porsche is gone, Toyota is the only automaker competing in the top LMP1-H category. At the same time, the Ford GT has arguably bent the rules of GT-class cars. The road-going and racing versions were designed concurrently, leading some competitors to grumble that Ford has built a race car and turned it into a road car, rather than the other way around.
A top Le Mans class based around modified supercars could attract more interest from automakers by creating a place for cars like the Valkyrie, Ford GT, and other cars that are too extreme to fit the spirit of the GT-class rules. It could also, as Palmer suggested, stoke fan interest by offering the spectacle of drool-worthy
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