The road to Le Mans: Racing-spec Aston Martin Valkyrie spotted testing at Silverstone | CAR Magazine

The road to Le Mans: Racing-spec Aston Martin Valkyrie spotted testing at Silverstone

Published: 17 July 2024

► Aston Martin returns to Le Mans for 2025
► Will use Valkyrie hypercar
► Will race in WEC and IMSA

Aston Martin is well on its way to Le Mans. A new video has surfaced of an LMH-spec version of Gaydon’s hypercar testing at Silverstone, and it looks and sounds as extreme as you’d expect. 

The video and image you see below were posted to Twitter soon after the test and show what looks to be a racier version of the V12-powered Valkyrie disguised in camouflage. As you’d expect, it’s grown further downforce-generating bodywork but still keeps the same streamlined, prototype silhouette as before.

The appearance of Aston Martin comes days after the unveil of the RB17, Adrian Newey’s most recent hypercar design. Red Bull hasn’t announced any plans to race its hypercar though, so this is the only one you’ll see at Le Mans in the near future. 

Everything else you need to know

Aston Martin is returning to Le Mans in 2025, and it’s using the Valkyrie hypercar to do it. When it hits the track, it’ll be the first hypercar with a road car counterpart to compete within the current rules. It’ll be running two of them as well.

‘We have been present at Le Mans since the earliest days, and through those glorious endeavours we succeeded in winning Le Mans in 1959 and our class 19 times over the past 95 years,’ said Lawrence Stroll, Executive Chairman of Aston Martin Lagonda at an event to announce the news. ‘Now we return to the scene of those first triumphs aiming to write new history with a racing prototype inspired by the fastest production car Aston Martin has ever built.’

‘In addition to our presence in the FIA F1 World Championship, Aston Martin’s return to the pinnacle of endurance racing will allow us to build a deeper connection with our customers and community, many of whom found their passion for the brand through our past success at Le Mans. And of course, the complex knowledge-base we are building through our F1® team is data that Aston Martin Performance Technologies can harness to further enhance the capabilities of the Valkyrie racecar at Le Mans, in WEC and IMSA.’

Hasn’t this happened already? 

If this sounds familiar it’s because Aston Martin was originally tipped to join the WEC championship in 2020-2021, before financial issues forced the company to withdraw. Now, though, with solid financial support Lawrence Stroll, Aston Martin will compete in both the WEC championship as well as the IMSA championship. This means that the prototype Valkyrie will race in Le Mans, the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Like many other hypercar programs, Aston Martin’s Valkyrie entry will be a joint project between the Gaydon company and its racing partner Heart of Racing (HoR). 

How will it work?

The Valkyrie AMR Pro was originally designed to meet the new LMH hypercar regulations, and now Aston Martin Performance Technologies has begun to turn that product into something that fits within the aero and power performance window allowed by the rules. Homologation will occur before it’s able to compete in the WEC and IMSA series in 2025. 

In Pro form, the car exceeds the Balance of Performance envelope, so the development time will be spent with Aston’s engineers pairing back the AMR Pro’s capabilities: ‘It is actually quite a task to detune to every performance and into the legislative performance.’ said Adam Carter, head of endurance motorsport at Aston Martin.

‘And that’s also great opportunity in terms of still you come down to the downfalls but how many sensitivities and so as all those opportunities come there. And so rather than just turning the dial, it’s about if we turn this dial down what else can we turn up elsewhere to get the most performance.’

Aero performance will be challenging to reduce, particularly as the road car is almost exclusively designed for aerodynamic efficiency – like the RB17, it’s an Adrian Newey-penned car after all.

The racing Valkyrie will use a carbonfibre chassis like the road car, and gets to keep its high-revving, Cosworth-built 6.5-litre naturally aspirated V12 – but here it’ll be detuned to withstand the rigours of sustained racing and fit into the correct BoP envelope. To that end, Cosworth is an integral partner in the project.

No more hybrid

Despite Le Mans’ most recent rule set push hybrid technology in some form, the track-going Valkyrie we’ll see in 2025 won’t have a battery-electric hybrid system like the road car.

Green is the new red

Aston Martin also announced a GT3 program at the same time, setting it up to be the only manufacturer to compete in every level of endurance racing available in 2025. As we heard back at the 2023 Silverstone GP, Aston Martin is setting itself up to be the British version of Ferrari, and it’s using motorsport to do it. From endurance racing to F1, Gaydon and Silverstone are set to become even more of a motorsport force in the next few years. 

What’s more, WEC also appears the place to be – just as F1 was just before the onset of its Drive To Survive-powered surge in popularity: ‘As a sport as a business is on fire,’ said Stroll. ‘Formula One teams have appreciated in value significantly over the last few years due to the popularity of the sport due to cost caps.’

With an influx of factory teams, it’s very possible endurance racing will soon enjoy a similar spotlight – and just as with Formula One – Aston Martin will be primed to rake in the increased awareness and profits.

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's Digital Editor, F1 and sim-racing enthusiast. Partial to clever tech and sports bikes