Every silver lining has a cloud. While the recent news of IMSA adhering to identical regs as WEC for its flagship racers - the so-called LMDh category - excited a lot of people, it has already incurred a drop out. Aston Martin, one of the most prominent manufacturers lined up for WEC's Hypercar class, has decided to "pause" the development of its Valkyrie race car as it "considers whether to continue in any future prototype class." The release continues: "Aston Martin remains open to working with both organisations to find a suitable pathway for any future participation."
While a visible Aston Martin presence will continue in motorsport - in F1 with Red Bull, and in the WEC with the GTE-spec Vantages - it's a real shame that the Hypercar programme has stalled. After many years of the lower classes boasting better racing than the flagship cars in endurance racing, many fans were eager for a top tier with broader manufacturer representation, a more exciting noise and a linkback to production cars. While, of course, the series will continue, losing a brand as significant as Aston is a big deal.
Andy Palmer has said that Aston's desire to win Le Mans "remains undiminished", though maintained that reconsidering their position was needed "in light of a significant change in the landscape that was not anticipated when we committed last year."
While there will undoubtedly be further conjecture around what has really motivated this decision, the loss of Aston from the top level of sportscars before it has even begun is pretty miserable news. Let's hope the postponement is only a temporary one - more news we have it.
PHers are discussing Aston's move at length in the forums - join the chat here.