According to Autosport, the British automaker is closely considering launching a new front-running prototype. It could enter the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship. That is, if the proposed new format goes through.
With Audi, Porsche, Nissan, and Peugeot all having shuttered their hybrid LMP1 programs in recent years, the ACO and the FIA are currently evaluating implementing a new format for the top class. Tentatively called GTP, the new regs would ostensibly sit somewhere in between the current LMP1 prototypes and the defunct GT1 class. And that’s something in which Aston Martin, for one, could be interested.
“We are at the table because we are interested – there’s no certainty that we will do it, but there is a definite interest,” Aston Martin Racing chief David King told Autosport. “If the ACO and the FIA allow us to compete at a cost that is not an order of magnitude more than a GTE programme, then we would look at it.”
The last time Aston Martin competed in the top tier was with the AMR-One in 2011. It placed a 2.0-liter turbo six behind an open cockpit, but never found success. Before that (and briefly after) it fielded the DBR1-2, which placed the V12 engine from the DBR9 in a closed Lola chassis. Neither proved particularly successful, though, leaving Aston to return to the GT classes.
“We wouldn’t be at the table to discuss LMP1 as it is now, because it is too expensive, as it was when we dabbled in it before,” said King. “The conditions of our entry would be affordability and the ability of a small company like ourselves to compete with someone like Toyota together with a relevance to road cars.”
If Aston were to proceed with such a program, it could base its racing chassis on either the Valkyrie hypercar or the forthcoming mid-engined supercar it’s planning on slotting in underneath it.
The proposed format would potentially open the door for more manufacturers to participate as well. As it stands, Toyota has the top class almost entirely to itself, with only privateer, conventional prototypes to contend with. And one way or another, that will likely prove untenable moving forward.