Aston Martin’s plan to fight for overall victory at Le Mans and other FIA World Endurance Championship rounds is back on. The manufacturer was originally going to enter WEC’s hypercar category with the Valkyrie in 2021 but binned those plans, only to reverse the decision with a view to competing from 2025.
It all centres around a new deal with Aston’s existing endurance racing partner, US outfit Heart of Racing [HoR]. It’ll run “at least one” Valkyrie AMR Pro-based entry in both WEC and the IMSA SportsCar championship, becoming the only production-derived car in either competition.
Excited? You certainly should be. However the Valkyries do in the respective championships, they’ll easily win the unofficial award for ‘best noise’. The other Hypercar and LMDh teams Aston competes with tend to use turbocharged V6s and V8s, so the Valkyrie’s naturally aspirated, 6.5-litre V12 with its sky-high redline will stand out in the best way possible.
Running flat out for 24 hours is a tough ask, so Aston Martin says the Cosworth-built engine will be “enhanced further to incorporate the critical Balance of Performance requirements of the Hypercar class, and developed to withstand the rigours of top level long-distance competition”. As is the case with the AMR Pro, the racing version won’t have a battery-electric hybrid system.
Speaking to Heart of Racing team principal Ian James at the announcement of the programme at Aston Martin F1's Silverstone HQ, he suggested that it'd probably rev lower than the 11,000rpm the AMR Pro is capable of. And despite there being more moving parts inside the engine, the Valkyrie's lack of turbochargers or hybridisation offsets this complexity. Aston Martin's head of endurance racing Adam Carter noted there was "some beauty in simplification."
It’s a little too early for Aston Martin to be talking about drivers, but its GT3, GT4 and GTE racing programmes will give it no shortage of options. And who knows, we could see some movement over from the F1 side. Fernando Alonso, after all, has plenty of experience racing at the pointy end of the WEC grid.
Ian James has this to say about the programme:
“It’s a privilege to be able to bring Aston Martin back to the top of endurance racing with the Heart of Racing.
“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.”
Adam Carter added:
"Today marks the beginning of a new chapter for Aston Martin in endurance racing. As a manufacturer, Aston Martin has a consistent record of success at world championship level and, through the efforts of the Heart of Racing, also now in IMSA.
“Valkyrie takes us back into the top tier of sportscar racing and, together with our partners we are absolutely confident that we can deliver a race car with the potential and the performance capabilities to fight alongside the benchmark machinery in the class.