The first Aston Martin Le Mans contender designed from the ground up in more than 50 years will be on the grid at the Circuit de la Sarthe next June.
Prodrive-run Aston Martin Racing has given the green light to a project to try to repeat the outright victory in 1959 of DBR1, the previous purpose-built Aston sports-prototype. AMR took the decision to build the petrol-engined LMP1 contender it had been working on since the end of 2009 after receiving assurances from the Automobile Club de l’Ouest that there will be a level playing ﬁeld between petrol and diesel-powered cars under the new 2011 rulebook.
The new car, which has yet to be given a type number, replaces the Lola-based coupé AMR has ﬁelded at La Sarthe for the past two years. Unlike the previous bespoke Aston prototype, the AMR1 that raced at Le Mans in 1989, this car will have a purpose-designed Aston engine.
AMR believes it now has a ﬁrm commitment to equality between petrol and diesel cars from the ACO for next year. These centre on how the French organisation will implement a new article in its forthcoming regulations that promises to “maximise equality between different types of engine and different fuels”.
Aston chairman David Richards said: “There is now a commitment to a fair balance of performance from the ACO and it is on that basis we have made this decision.”
The ACO has promised a more open approach to balancing petrol and diesel LMP1s, as well as cars (including the 2011 Peugeot 90X) equipped with hybrid technology. It stated that it will invite the manufacturers around a table to discuss equivalence rules.
Few details of the new Aston have been announced. As expected it will be an open-top car and will be powered by a petrol engine. The powerplant, the ﬁrst engine to be designed from a clean sheet of paper by Prodrive, is expected to be a 3.4-litre normally-aspirated V8.
AMR is aiming to have one of the new LMP1s on the grid for the Sebring 12 Hours next March. It is expected to ﬁeld three cars at the Le Mans 24 Hours, while a fourth car is likely to come on stream for a customer team in the middle of the season.