Aston Martin has confirmed that it will not field a Le Mans Hypercar in the 2020-21 FIA World Endurance Championship season as it “re-evaluates” its motorsports strategy.
As first reported by Sportscar365 on Tuesday, the British manufacturer will not move forward with its initial plans, which it announced last June, to enter the WEC with a production-based version of the soon-to-be-released Valkyrie.
The non-hybrid hypercar, built by Multimatic, is understood to have begun initial development but was not due to begin on-track testing until this summer.
Both Multimatic and R-Motorsport were tipped to operate entries in the maiden LMH season although plans had been in a state of flux over the last six months, largely due to budget-related reasons.
More recently, Aston Martin Lagonda’s £500 million ($656 million) investment by Lawrence Stroll, who is set to become the company’s executive chairman, is understood to have led to the change of plans.
In a release issued Wednesday morning, the British manufacturer has cited “changes in the sport” including the ACO and IMSA’s new joint LMDh platform, as a reason to consider whether it will compete “in any future prototype class” in the future.
“Aston Martin remains open to working with both organizations to find a suitable pathway for any future participation,” a statement read.
The change comes in the wake of Aston’s re-entry into Formula 1 next year, through Stroll’s Racing Point F1 team, which will become a fully-fledged factory outfit and is expected to utilize the majority of the manufacturer’s motorsports budget.
The release noted Aston Martin’s future motorsport plans “will be defined” by its F1 and endurance racing programs moving forward.
“With such momentous change taking place in sports car racing, the decision to pause our entry into the WEC Hypercar class gives us the time and breathing space to calmly assess the status of the top level of the sport, and our place within it,” said Aston Martin Racing president David King.
“Competing against our closest rivals on the road in GT racing makes perfect sense. Vantage is winning in some of the most fiercely contested sports car classes in global motorsport, and long may this continue.”
Aston Martin’s factory GTE-Pro program has been confirmed through the end of the 2021-22 WEC season.
Company president and CEO Andy Palmer said the manufacturer’s ambition to compete for the overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans remains “undiminished” although he failed to confirm whether an active effort will be made to re-enter in the future.
Aston Martin’s most recent top-class prototype effort came in 2011 with the ill-fated AMR-One, which took part in only two races.
“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. The situation has changed and it makes sense for us to pause and reconsider our options,” Palmer said.
Confirmation of Aston’s decision will result in a depleted field of cars in the WEC’s top class next season, with only Toyota and Glickenhaus officially committed to building new cars and Ginetta expressing interest to continue racing its G60-LT-P1 LMP1 under grandfathering rules.
The LMDh formula, meanwhile, is expected to boost entry counts by the 2021-22 season, with multiple manufacturers already expressing serious interest.