Aston Martin has announced that it has postponed the development of its World Endurance Championship (WEC) Hypercar entry. The British carmaker had initially planned to enter the series with a race-prepared version of the Valkyrie. However, those plans are now on hold as it "considers whether to continue in any future prototype class."
This decision means that the race-spec Valkyrie will not make its WEC debut at Silverstone in August 2020 or compete in the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans. The company cited uncertainty over the recent Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and International Motor Sport Association’s (IMSA) decision to combine the hypercar class with the World Endurance Championship's upcoming LMDh prototype category from 2021, and the US-based WeatherTech Sportscar Championship from 2022.
"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," Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer said. "The situation has changed and it makes sense for us to pause and reconsider our options."
In response, the FIA Endurance Commission and WEC called the decision "very regrettable but perhaps not unexpected", citing "persistent rumours over the last six months concerning the fragility of the brand’s exposure" and a decision to enter Formula 1 in 2021 as possible reasons for the exit.
The Valkyrie racing project was being readied as a competitor to the Toyota GR Super Sport, a new Peugeot hypercar and potentially entrants from Lamborghini and Porsche in the new top-rung endurance category, which replaces the LMP1 class.
The news comes amid a significant shake-up at Aston Martin following a major investment from a consortium led by billionaire Lawrence Stroll. The move will see the firm return to F1 as a works team, with the Stroll-owned Racing Point F1 team all set to be rebranded as the Aston Martin F1 team from 2021. In the wake of the investment, Aston Martin pledged to launch its Valkyrie hypercar this year, has committed to a revised mid-engined car strategy, and also revealed it will delay the launch of its electric vehicles, including the re-launch of the premium Lagonda brand, until after 2025.
The Valkyrie is the result of a joint venture between Aston Martin and Red Bull Advanced Technologies, which will be maintained “until the Aston Martin Valkyrie is delivered”. It is unclear if the decision to pause its WEC entry is linked to Stroll’s investment.
Aston Martin’s exit from the hypercar category leaves reigning Le Mans champion Toyota as the sole manufacturer to have confirmed its entry for the 2020/2021 season. Peugeot had announced an intention to race in 2022, while American manufacturer Glickenhaus plans to compete with its new SCG007 racer from 2021 onwards. It remains to be seen if the FIA racing body, which oversee the World Endurance Championship, will reconsider the launch date for the new class.