A new set of regulations ratified by the World Endurance Championship, the premier class of sports car racing, could allow manufacturers to enter racing versions of hypercars like the Aston Martin Valkyrie and McLaren Senna.
WEC is reaching the end of its current set of regulations, with the current 2018/19 super-season the penultimate one before the series undergoes a radical revamp. The series has suffered from the withdrawal of Audi and Porsche from the premier LMP1 category in recent years and is being dominated by Toyota, who two-time Fernando Alonso is racing for, which is leading the championship and won the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours in June.
It is hoped the new rules can make WEC more appealing to manufacturers — the hypercar rules follow intense lobbying from a group of manufacturers reportedly including Ferrari as well as Aston Martin and McLaren. WEC will hope two of the projects currently associated with names from the F1 grid will be candidates for a spot on the grid in 2020/21.
The Valkyrie is being developed as part of a joint project involving Red Bull and the title partner of its F1 team, Aston Martin, a project overseen by design legend Adrian Newey. The V12-engined car promises to be one of the fastest road-legal cars in the world. Aston Martin plans to produce 150 for the road, with 25 track-only versions.
Earlier this year McLaren, the wider automotive company behind the F1 team of the same name, named its new hypercar after its most famous driver — three-time world champion Ayrton Senna. Equipped with a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, the Senna will have a power output of 789 brakehorsepower having been specifically designed to be quick on a track. McLaren plans to build 500 of them.
WEC’s plans were ratified in Paris this week. The series has promised an “expansion of the 2020 LMP technical regulations concept to allow a ‘hypercar’ developed from the road cars sold by the manufacturers to enter, while preserving the previously-approved regulatory format”.
In order to remain road relevant, the engines used in the series must also be developed for road use, with at least 25 identical engines being produced in the first year. By the end of the second season, the engine manufacturer must reach a total production of 100 road-going units to meet homologation regulations.