The Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), which oversees various Le Mans series in Europe and elsewhere, laid out a number of changes to the 2011 LMP1-class cars, aiming to equalize performance between diesel- and gasoline-engined cars. Sniffing a chance to not only steal some thunder, but perhaps beat Audi and Peugeot over the head with it, Aston Martin plans a brand-new LMP1 entrant for 2011 to go for overall Le Mans victory.
An open cockpit, monococque single-seater with a new engine, it would be the first racing Aston developed entirely in-house in fifty years. The biggest X factor is whether, and how much, the regulations will actually work to close the diesel/gas disparity. If it's close, Aston Martin Chairman Dave Richards believes his company is in with a shout. Follow the jump for the press release.
[Source: Aston Martin]
Silverstone, 11 September 2010. Aston Martin will return to the legendary Le Mans 24 Hour race in 2011 with a new LMP1 race car designed to compete for top honours.
The new Gulf Oil liveried car is being designed from the ground up with an Aston Martin open cockpit monocoque chassis and a new purpose-designed race engine.
Under the new Automobile Club De L'Ouest (ACO) technical regulations for 2011, Aston Martin now believes it has the opportunity to compete for top honours at the 24 Hour race against tough competition including the diesel-engined competitors. As with all Aston Martins, the new LMP1 will be petrol-powered and designed to make the best use of the ACO's stringent regulations.
Aston Martin Chairman, David Richards said: "Having won the GT category twice at Le Mans in 2007 and 2008 and the Le Mans Series outright in 2009, we still want to achieve our ultimate goal of winning the 24 Hour race overall to bring the title back to Britain.
"In recent years, it has been impossible for petrol cars to compete on equal terms with the diesels. However, we now have assurances from the ACO that, with the adoption of the 2011 regulations, they will properly balance the performance of these new cars. Under these circumstances we have been prepared to develop Aston Martin's first purpose-built racing chassis and engine for more than 50 years.
"Even with this new car, it will still be a 'David and Goliath' fight against the massive resources of our competitors, but we have become accustomed to this and relish the challenge."
Work on the new chassis and engine has been progressing for several months at Aston Martin Racing's headquarters in Banbury, UK and the first of a limited number of six cars will run in early 2011.
Dr. Ulrich Bez, CEO of Aston Martin said: "Racing is a fundamental part of Aston Martin's heritage and Le Mans is the race that every true sports car maker aspires to win. While every aspect of this new LMP1 car has been built purely for racing, we also remain committed to developing race-winning GT cars based on our road cars. We are the only manufacturer to offer a race car for every category from GT1 to GT4."
Aston Martin's first and only outright victory at Le Mans was in 1959 with the DBR1 of Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby. Aston Martin Racing has been at the pinnacle of endurance racing since it was founded in 2004 with multiple factory and customer wins across the globe including two GT1 class victories at Le Mans in 2007 and 2008, and an overall Le Mans series win in 2009.