Aston Martin has it announced that it is postponing the Valkyrie programme with which it had intended to enter the Le Mans Hypercar class of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The Valkyrie, which is a joint project between Aston Martin and Red Bull Advanced Technologies, was supposed to make its racing debut in the WEC 2020/21 season, but the Gaydon firm has now confirmed that it is delaying the project indefinitely.
It will therefore not be competing in the next season of the WEC, which kicks off in September at Silverstone.
The delay follows Lawrence Stroll’s recent investment into the struggling luxury car maker, which includes plans to turn the Racing Point F1 team into an official Aston Martin works team from next year.
Following the investment, Aston Martin and Red Bull confirmed that their paths would split after the 2020 Formula 1 season, but the Austrian company stated at the time that it would ‘continue to work with Aston Martin on the Valkyrie project’ and that the Valkyrie remained a ‘key project’ for Red Bull Advanced Technologies, with the first batch of road cars scheduled for delivery at the end of 2020.
But while development of the road car appears ongoing, with Red Bull Racing drivers Max Verstappen and Alex Albon recently testing the car at Silverstone, the race car project had seen little public information released since Aston Martin confirmed its intention to enter the Hypercar class at Le Mans last June.The news deals a major blow to the WEC’s new top class, with only two manufacturers now on the books for the 2020/21 season.
“With such momentous change taking place in sportscar racing, the decision to pause our entry into the WEC Hypercar class gives us the time and breathing space to calmly assess the status of the top level of the sport, and our place within it,” said Aston Martin Vice President and Chief Special Operations Officer and President of Aston Martin Racing, David King.
“Competing against our closest rivals on the road in GT racing makes perfect sense. Vantage is winning in some of the most fiercely contested sportscar classes in global motorsport, and long may this continue.”
Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer added: “Aston Martin’s ambition to compete for the overall victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans remains undiminished, but it is only right that we reassess our position in light of a significant change in the landscape that was not anticipated when we committed last year.
“We entered Aston Martin Valkyrie in WEC and at Le Mans with the understanding that we would be competing with similar machinery and like-minded manufacturers. The situation has changed and it makes sense for us to pause and reconsider our options.
“Meanwhile, we’re extremely proud of Vantage and what it is achieving against our most direct competitors. GT racing has always been positioned at the core of what we do, for it bears the closest link to the cars that we build for the road. Both the Vantage road car and the Vantage GTE are borne from the same aluminium body structures that originate in Gaydon. When we win in WEC, it is a victory for Vantage, for our customers, and everyone at Aston Martin Lagonda.”
Toyota confirmed its intention to enter at Le Mans, much like Aston Martin, and American boutique supercar maker Glickenhaus is also working on a car to enter the championship with ByKolles, a frequent fixture in the LMP1 class of the championship up until the 2019/2020 campaign, also confirmed intention to enter, but has yet to release any meaningful information to follow up on its announcement.