Aston Martin has reaffirmed its commitment to GTE after launching its new Valkyrie Hypercar program at Le Mans on Friday.
The British manufacturer is set to remain in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s GTE-Pro ranks for the foreseeable future, but hasn’t ruled out a move to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
It’s unclear whether a possible IMSA program, which was hinted at by Aston Martin Lagonda CEO Dr. Andy Palmer, would be in addition to, or a replacement of, the brand’s existing WEC GTE-Pro project.
“Well I wouldn’t say that we’re not going to take it to IMSA, but I think what I can say is that we’ll continue to participate in GTE,” Palmer told assembled media at Le Mans.
He says GTE remains important the British manufacturer from a marketing perspective despite its opportunity to fight for overall WEC and Le Mans wins in Hypercar, due to the Valkyrie and Vantage’s different positioning.
“The two are doing different things,” he explained. “GTE is a continuum of demonstrating that our sports cars have legitimacy, front-engined, two seats.
“In their track version, we sell GT4s and GT3s, so you need a halo.
“On the other hand, the marketing role of Valkyrie is basically about demonstrating our legitimacy in mid-engines so that when the Vanquish comes to market in 21/22, none of you guys are going to say well they don’t have any legitimacy, an Aston with a mid-engined car?
“That’s already gone at that stage, they’ve done Formula 1, they’ve done WEC, they’ve done Valkyrie 001, 002, 003. It’s obvious that Aston should be in that space. That’s the role that this does. So there’s room for both.”
Aston Martin Racing president David King echoed Palmer’s thoughts, saying the Gaydon-based manufacturer is “fully committed” to its current GT programs.
“Racing our regular road cars, our mainstream road cars, series production cars, is just as important,” he said.
“It just creates an extra layer. We’re fully committed to all the GT stuff we’re currently doing.
“Obviously there’s a difference between contracts and desires, but we’ve been here [racing GT cars at Le Mans] since 2005. We’ve never left and we don’t intend to ever leave.”
Palmer: Hypercar Program Was “50/50” Two Weeks Ago
Palmer admitted that getting the Hypercar program together in time to launch following the ACO’s press conference at Le Mans on Friday morning was a struggle.
“If you’d asked me two weeks ago, I would have given you 50/50 odds on where it was going to go,” he said.
“It’s been a long haul here. Look, people are passionate about the sport, so that’s good news.
“People have different opinions of how you go racing, and their companies are in different positions.
“We’re fortunate in so far as we could have gone down a GTE route or a Valkyrie route, but obviously lots of teams can get you to GTE, so our natural preference was towards having a bit of a timing advantage on the Valkyrie.
“So therein lies our preference. But it’s only in the last week or so that it’s been clear that the ACO will carry the day with the Hypercar regs.”