Aston Martin says that the convergence announcement and subsequent creation of the LMDh formula was the reason it decided to postpone its Valkyrie WEC programme earlier this week.
The Gaydon firm announced it would delay plans for its Valkyrie hypercar project to enter the FIA World Endurance Championship, subsequently leaving Toyota as the only major manufacturer on the grid when the Le Mans Hypercar category debuts at Silverstone in September.
Since Aston Martin’s announcement, it had been speculated that both the company’s poor financial performance as well as the upcoming Formula One project had caused the decision, but the company has now said that it was the ACO/IMSA convergence and subsequent announcement of the new LMDh category that fuelled the decision to postpone the project.
Speaking to select media at the Circuit of the Americas ahead of Sunday’s Lone Star Le Mans round of the WEC, Aston Martin Racing president David King explained that the creation of LMDh was detrimental to the aim of selling the Valkyrie to customer teams, which ultimately led to the decision.
“As we all know there wasn’t the new entrants, the commitments from other manufacturers that we were all hoping for into Hypercars,” King said. “That, I think, meant that ACO and the WEC had to pragmatically look at some backup options and the IMSA thing has been bubbling for some time.
And it came to a point where they announced in Daytona that the intention for the IMSA convergence with the LMDh cars, and that did change things for us.”
“Because we think that the market for customer race cars for us is damaged by that. Because the racing Valkyrie is an expensive car, because it comes from a road car which costs 2,5 million pounds.
So if you’re a private team and you’re going to set up to race Valkyries to win Le Mans and win WEC, then you’re going to be spending many millions to buy your two cars, to get set up and a very expensive program to run.”
King pointed out that the formation of LMDh would provide potential customers with a cheaper alternative to a Valkyrie programme.
“Now, those private teams will be able to, based on what we think other competitors are going to do, will be able to buy premium branded LMDh cars that are much cheaper, cheaper to buy and cheaper to run and we don’t think there is a customer market that was there originally,” he continued.
“We don’t know that for sure and we need some time to evaluate it, but it changes the conditions on which we got the project approved. And so we have to take a pause and decide whether we should carry on with that or look at LMDh or look at staying with GTs.
I don’t know what the outcome of that is going to be. I understand the disappointment it’s caused in the sport, but there is really nothing more behind it. It’s got nothing do to with Lawrence Stroll coming in, it’s got nothing to with the fact that we’ve had a tougher than expected financial year.”
When asked if Aston Martin’s future expansion into Formula One had anything to do with the decision, King replied: “No. It’s just coincidentally been announced at a similar time, but it’s got nothing to do with it.”