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ACO “Continues to Believe” in LMH After Aston Postponement

WEC organizer responds to Aston Martin putting its Valkyrie race program on hold…

Photo: Aston Martin

Automobile Club de l’Ouest president Pierre Fillon says the FIA World Endurance Championship organizing body “continues to believe” in its Le Mans Hypercar formula despite Aston Martin’s postponement of the Valkyrie race program.

In a statement issued shortly after Aston Martin announced that its prototype return would not move forward as initially planned, the ACO affirmed its belief in LMH which currently has only Toyota and Glickenhaus officially committed for the 2020-21 WEC.

Aston Martin stated that it pulled out of its race program with the Adrian Newey-designed Valkyrie because of the creation of the LMDh global prototype formula, but it’s understood that financial reconsiderations following Lawrence Stroll’s rescue deal also played a significant role.

Fillon asserted that the ACO remains “utterly convinced” that its LMH formula can attract other OEM manufacturers to the WEC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“Aston Martin recently informed us of this new development in its Valkyrie Le Mans Hypercar project. We can only take note of this and await a favorable outcome,” he said.

“For a few months now, we have all been aware of the economic difficulties of Aston Martin, and the subsequent questions raised about its future motorsport programs, namely endurance racing and F1, as well as its strategic path forward.

“Contextual developments linked to economic and industrial parameters can always occur for a manufacturer during the implementation of projects.

“As far as the next top category of competition, Le Mans Hypercar, is concerned, we continue to believe and remain utterly convinced that a manufacturer has its rightful place there, in all its best interests.”

Fillon added that the recent deal between the ACO and IMSA to create LMDh “does not impact” the original LMH category, which is set to be balanced against the new global formula which will join the WEC grid in 2021-22.

Unlike LMH, which enables manufacturers to design cars based on a road-going hypercar or a hypercar-styled prototype, LMDh permits the use of a chassis provided by one of four allocated constructors.

Manufacturer interest in LMDh has been high following the convergence announcement in January, while decisions on program commitments are expected to be made soon.

“To run at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in the WEC, at this level of technology and budget, is an undeniable opportunity for a manufacturer to demonstrate its competitiveness,” said Fillon.

“This covers a whole range of fields: technical, efficiency, improved fuel consumption, sustainable mobility.

“The ACO/IMSA convergence does not impact this category, and the next elements on the technical details of that common platform, to be given at Sebring in mid-March, will confirm that.

“We hope that this transitory pause in Aston Martin’s Valkyrie development with Multimatic will come to a quick and positive conclusion.”

WEC CEO Gerard Neveu suggested that the championship can account for Aston Martin’s loss by convincing other brands to sign up for either of the two available platforms.

“This is not good news for the WEC in the short term, but it doesn’t change our mid and long-term plans,” he said.

“We still have Toyota and Peugeot plus other entrants who have expressed an interest in LMH and, with the arrival of LMDh, we will welcome many new manufacturers.

“Of course, it would be better if Aston Martin was present as well, but it’s important that we have as wide a range of manufacturers as possible and that is the strategic plan we are working on for the future.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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