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Aston Martin Valkyrie will race at Le Mans in 2025. Image by Aston Martin.

Aston Martin Valkyrie will race at Le Mans in 2025
Company’s hopes of winning the endurance race outright, for the first time since 1959, rest with hypercar.
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What's all this about?

Aston Martin Racing (AMR) is going back to Le Mans for a shot at the overall victory with this, the outrageous Valkyrie LMH. It'll be entered into the ultimate Hypercar and GTP categories of both the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championships (IMSA), respectively, from 2025 onwards, and it's based on the road-going hybrid car. Which, we may remind you, has a 6.5-litre Cosworth-developed nat-asp V12 capable of revving to 11,000rpm and delivering more than 1,000hp. Aston Martin says the racing version will have a 'modified' take on the same drivetrain, although it won't have any part-electric propulsion.

Wow, this is great news! But... I thought Aston had been racing at Le Mans for years now?

Well, it has - but in categories that wouldn't be expected to take the overall win at Le Mans. You see, Aston has competed at Le Mans since 1928, on and off, and has picked up 19 class victories in that time at the French venue. And its modern racing arm, AMR (which was formed in 2004), has been very successful in the GT1 and GTE classes, taking five wins (2007, 2008, 2014, 2017 and 2020) with the DBR9 and also both generations of the Vantage GTE in that time. But the most recent winner, the No.97 Vantage GTE in 2020, came in 20th overall in the wider scheme of the race. This is what endurance racing is all about, see? Different categories of race car, all running at the same time.

I think I get you. So does the Valkyrie LMH have a real chance of winning?

Aston certainly hopes so, because - as a manufacturer - it has just one outright victory at Le Mans to its name. This came in 1959, when a pair of DBR1/300s romped to a one-two finish, completing 323 and 322 laps respectively. The lead car there, by the way, was driven by Brit Roy Salvadori and some American guy; Carroll Shelby, or something...

Carroll Shelby?! THE Carroll Shelby?

Yes, the very same. He who went on to make some awesome AC Cobra and Ford Mustang-based machines, as well as being pivotal in the Ford GT40's domination at Le Mans from 1966 through to '69. It's that story which is depicted in the film Le Mans '66, starring Christian Bale and Matt Damon (as Shelby), also known as Ford v Ferrari in some countries.

OK, so this is a quest for Aston. But why the focus on Le Mans?

Ah, that's not strictly the case. Le Mans is, of course, arguably the most famous race the Valkyrie LMH will compete in, but it's taking part in the full campaigns of both the WEC and IMSA, which means it will also line up on the grids at prestigious events such as the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring, among more. Indeed, as Aston Martin announced while revealing the Valkyrie's entry from 2025 onwards, the outfit is still committed to other classes of racing, such as GT3 and GT4, where it will build new competition cars based on the Vantage platform. So when the Valkyrie takes the start in 2025, Aston will be the only manufacturer to have representation in all the main classes of endurance racing - from Hypercar through to GT4 - as well as Formula 1, where it has a team including double-world champion Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll.

Stroll? Related to the man in charge of Aston Martin, yes?

That's right, Lance is the son of Lawrence Stroll, the executive chairman of Aston Martin Lagonda, who said of the Valkyrie LMH programme: "Performance is the lifeblood of everything that we do at Aston Martin, and motorsport is the ultimate expression of this pursuit of excellence.

"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. 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 Formula 1 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."

Cool, cool. Anything else to add?

Just that the honour of running the Valkyrie LMH cars, in both WEC and IMSA, will fall on a team called The Heart of Racing (HoR). This outfit was created in 2020 and has only raced Aston GT cars since, and came out of a charity founded in 2014 - by American philanthropist and businessman Gabe Newell - which raises money for the Seattle Children's Cardiology Research Fund, among other good causes. So there's some really noble background to Aston's attempt to win at Le Mans, 66 years after it last tasted victory at the grand old endurance race.

Matt Robinson - 4 Oct 2023

Aston Martin plans to enter 2025 Le Mans with Valkyrie. Image by Aston Martin.Aston Martin plans to enter 2025 Le Mans with Valkyrie. Image by Aston Martin.Aston Martin plans to enter 2025 Le Mans with Valkyrie. Image by Aston Martin.Aston Martin plans to enter 2025 Le Mans with Valkyrie. Image by Aston Martin.    - Aston Martin road tests
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