Aston Martin will has announced it will fight for overall honours at Le Mans with the Aston Martin Valkyrie hypercar, in a multi-year program set to start next year.

Aston Martin has a long history in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, topped by its 1959 outright victory with a DBR1 sports car, driven by Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori. After several decades away, the factory Aston Martin Racing team returned in 2005 to contest the GT categories with cars built and run by Prodrive. Four class wins have been secured thus far.

Racing versions of road-going hypercars will headline the FIA World Endurance Championship – which includes the Le Mans race – from the 2020/21 season onwards, replacing the current LMP1 class. The Valkyrie fits the new regulations exactly.

The road car features all-carbonfibre construction with underbody aerodynamics to produce a ground effect, rather than large spoilers to produce downforce. Power comes from a mid-mounted 6.5-litre V12 engine. There will be an even more extreme track-only AMR Pro version and the race car will go several steps beyond even that.

The most successful Formula 1 car designer of all time, Adrian Newey, has been heavily involved in the design and development of the Valkyrie, as has the Red Bull F1 team’s technology division.

Aston hasn’t announced which outfit will operate the WEC Valkyries, but it seems likely the job will fall to long-time partner Prodrive.

Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer said: “We embark on this most ambitious project with the necessary ingredients for success. What could be more evocative than the wail of an Aston Martin V12 leading the charge into the night on the Mulsanne straight?”

Indeed.

The introduction of the WEC’s ‘Hypercar’ rules has been rather messy, but if it brings cars like the Valkyrie to the track, we’re in for some epic races.

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By Graham King