The FIA World Endurance Championship is set to begin its 2020/21 season with the introduction of its new Hypercar class—but with one significant player missing. Aston Martin is rumored to be pulling its Valkyrie-based hypercar out of the series, leaving Toyota as the sole competitor in the Hypercar class. Interestingly, this announcement comes soon after Aston Martin released videos of Red Bull Racing’s Formula One drivers taking their Martin out for a spin.
Racer has the scoop:
A major blow has been dealt to the ACO and FIA World Endurance Championship’s plans with the cancellation of Aston Martin Racing’s Hypercar program utilizing its new Valkyrie road car.
RACER has learned a formal announcement is imminent. Reached Monday, a brand representative declined to comment on the topic.
Termination of the racing project for the 6.5-liter V12-powered machine comes on the heels of a major investment into the financially beleaguered British auto manufacturer led by Canadian Lawrence Stroll, who owns the Racing Point Formula 1 team, and will become Aston Martin’s executive chairman along with aligning the company with his F1 team in 2021.
The official announcement could come as early as Wednesday, Sportscar365 reports. Earlier today, however, Red Bull Racing released footage of its drivers Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon taking the Valkyrie out for a spin. It seems strange to promote the race car if the race program is hanging by a thread.
If Aston Martin were to cancel its program, that would leave one single manufacturer in the Hypercar class, thus raising questions as to the viability of the whole class itself. The whole purpose of the class was to replace LMP1 with a more viable class that would enable manufacturers to submit race-ready versions of road-going cars, thus not requiring a ton of outside development. But with only Toyota competing in the class, there’s not going to be a ton of fascinating competition.
Aston Martin was recently bought out by billionaire Lawrence Stroll, father of F1 driver Lance Stroll. Stroll has reportedly been aiming to cut the electric vehicle program proposed by Aston, and he plans to channel Aston Martin’s efforts into his son Lance’s team, not Red Bull Racing. It is not yet confirmed that the folding of the Valkyrie Hypercar program is related to Stroll’s influence, but it seems very likely.
We have reached out to Aston Martin for comment and will update if we hear back.