All posts in “Le mans”

Aston Martin spars with WEC over Valkyrie’s exit from racing

Confirming an earlier rumor, Aston Martin announced it has stopped developing the track-going version of the Valkyrie it planned to enter in the World Endurance Championship’s (WEC) new Hypercar category. It blamed its decision on a recent change in the regulations, but the sanctioning body responded that’s not the full story.

The British company explained it’s unhappy with the WEC’s decision to harmonize the Hypercar class with the LMDh category and the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship during the early 2020s. Without providing additional details, it declared the Valkyrie will not make its racing debut at the Silverstone track in August 2020 and it will not challenge Glickenhaus, Toyota, Peugeot and others in the 2021 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It added it’s considering canceling the program altogether, meaning the Valkyrie would never race.

Aston Martin isn’t quitting racing; far from it. It will continue to enter the Vantage GTE in WEC events around the world, and the Racing Point Formula One team will be rebranded Aston Martin after the 2020 season. The sudden and unexpected entry into Formula One led by investor Lawrence Stroll may have played a role in convincing executives to cancel the Hypercar program. Racing is expensive, and Aston isn’t doing well.

The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) that regulates the WEC doused cold water on Aston’s explanation. It opined the harmonization doesn’t impact the category, and it pledged to prove this claim when it releases additional technical specifications in March 2020. It instead blamed the decision to withdraw the Valkyrie from racing on the highly-publicized financial issues that have plagued Aston since 2019.

“The decision announced by Aston Martin is very regrettable but perhaps not unexpected in light of the persistent rumors over the last six months concerning the fragility of the brand’s exposure in the rapidly-evolving automotive market,” it wrote. As of writing, executives haven’t responded to these allegations.

Aston Martin and the FIA both noted they’re open to working with each other to find a solution, but the carmaker’s statement is highly ambiguous. It affirms Aston’s future presence in the racing world will be “defined by its activities at the highest level of both single-seater competition and endurance GT racing” and glaringly leaves the Hypercar category behind. To us, it sounds like the program has already been consigned to the attic.

The 2020-2021 WEC season begins in August 2020, so Aston Martin and the WEC need to quickly find a common ground if they want to salvage the Valkyrie’s racing career. Even if the car doesn’t race, the street-legal version remains on track for production, and the first deliveries are tentatively scheduled for late 2020.

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Our first look at the Peugeot hypercar for Le Mans

Peugeot is returning to Le Mans with Rebellion Racing, and the French automaker just dropped the first photo of what its car will look like in the hypercar class. We normally wouldn’t get too worked up over a race car rendering, but this one has certain … implications.

Homologation rules require manufacturers to both build and sell at least 20 production versions of the race car for it to be competition-legal in this class. That means Peugeot is ultimately going to have to sell a road-going version of this wild-looking race car, but only a few of them. Whether this potential Peugeot hypercar ends up looking anything like this rendering is still up for debate, but it’s an interesting idea to toy around with.

Peugeot has never produced a supercar or hypercar before, so the news that it would enter the WEC in this fashion was a bit shocking last month. The FCA-PSA tie-up just makes it all the more interesting now that Peugeot will be part of a massive company producing cars for the U.S. We’re still waiting on details about how much involvement Peugeot Sport will have in the car, as a previous report suggested Peugeot would hand much of the project off to Oreca and Rebellion Racing. Today, Peugeot made the Rebellion Racing partnership official, but the rest is still a bit hazy. 

The racing program is scheduled to kick off in 2022 with the Swiss Rebellion Racing team. We dig the jagged edges and concept design of the hypercar rendering Peugeot released today, which leaves us hopeful for an awesome final product in a couple years.

Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus shows its new ‘dog of war’ — the 007 LMP1 hypercar

Early in 2019, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus (SCG) sent out a “state of the union” of sorts. In addition to laying out the status of the company’s projects, it also painted a picture of what was in store for the future. SCG set goals to race the Baja Boot at the Baja 1000 in the stock SUV class, race the 004 GT3 and GT4S at the 2020 24 Hours of Nürburgring, and race its 007 hypercar at the 2020/2021 World Endurance Championship and Le Mans. At the time, only initial renderings had been released of the 007, but today, we get our first glimpse of the near-finalized design. 

Dressed in red with white details on its nose and tail, this is the SCG 007 LMP1. James Glickenhaus posted the photos to social media with the caption, “Cry Havoc And Let Slip The Dogs Of War.” He also added “3L TT V6,” which reveals that the car will be powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engine. Interestingly, the wheels and colorway seem to be nods to Alfa Romeo, which does offer a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 in the Giulia Quadrifoglio.

We had previously believed the car to be a hybrid, but that is now unclear. In the March release, SCG said it had been developing a new powertrain with the same team that created the hybrid KERS system for the P4/5 Competizione. Official specs were not detailed, but the road versions of the race car were tipped to have an 800-horsepower engine, plus a 200-horsepower hybrid setup that is “similar to the system we use on our LMP1 car.” However, SCG’s Facebook has now posted reports that the car will have the TT V6 and nothing more. Additionally, in an Instagram reply, SCG said the car would have 750 horsepower “as allowed by rules.” 

SCG said in a different social media comment that the car will be ready for testing in July 2020. We’ve reached out to SCG and will update with more information as it comes.

Glickenhaus shows Le Mans-bound, Alfa Romeo-inspired hybrid hypercar

New York-based boutique automaker Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus plans to challenge Aston Martin, Toyota, and possibly Lamborghini in the World Endurance Championship’s new hypercar category. Company founder James Glickenhaus published an enigmatic preview image to give us an early look at the upcoming race car, which will spawn an incredible street-legal model.

The photo depicts the yet-unnamed car’s rear end, and there’s a lot to take in. We see a swooping roofline that flows into a rear end accented by a pair of fins. This styling cue seemingly pays homage to the three Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica (BAT) concept cars Alfa Romeo commissioned from Bertone between 1953 and 1955, which isn’t surprising considering Glickenhaus is well-versed in automotive history. The Michelin-wrapped alloy wheels are also very Alfa-like, while a sizable air diffuser suggests the car spent many hours in a wind tunnel.

While the teaser photo asks more questions that it answers, Glickenhaus added that the car’s drivetrain will consist of an engine tuned to send 650 horsepower to the rear wheels, and a Formula One-like kinetic energy recuperation system (KERS) that zaps the front wheels with a 150-horsepower electric boost. This layout delivers through-the-road all-wheel drive, and we expect it will provide jaw-dropping performance. The engine’s origins remain under wraps, however.

If that number rings a bell, it might be because the Baja Boot off-roader uses a 650-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 engine borrowed from the Chevrolet Corvette Z06’s parts bin. We can’t help but wonder if the same time-tested supercharged eight-cylinder will also appear in the endurance racer.

Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus might bring its next new model to Pebble Beach, California, this week. If not, the company could show it either at the Frankfurt auto show opening its doors in September, or the Los Angeles auto show taking place in November. Either way, testing will begin in the coming months, and the car will participate in its first World Endurance Championship race in 2020. The street model will likely go on sale at about the same time priced well into the six digits.

Brabham announces return to Le Mans, in its BT62 supercar

Shortly after announcing the BT62 supercar’s new road-legal package, which also adds some driver comforts, Brabham Automotive has announced its racing intentions. The Australian manufacturer will be taking part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship in 2021-2022, in the GTE class. The GTE car will be based on the BT62 chassis. Stock, the BT62 comes with a 710-horsepower 5.4-liter V8.

There’s an interesting sideline to the news: As the BT62 debuted as a track-day car first and a road car second, early Brabham customers have become part of the BT62’s track testing team. It’s often said that with some cars, customers become sort of beta testers during early production — with Brabham’s supercars, the aspect seems rather more voluntary. In any case, the endurance racing program is “directly linked” to Brabham’s BT62 Driver Development Program, which also gives owners Pro-Am racing opportunities.

Sir Jack Brabham won the French Grand Prix at Le Mans in 1967, so the name has definite history there. David Brabham, the company’s managing director and lead test driver, also won at Le Mans in 2009, with a Peugeot 908, and his brother Geoff took the honors there in 1993 driving a Peugeot 905.

David Brabham says: “Returning the Brabham name to Le Mans is something I have been working on for years, so it’s fantastic to make this announcement today. Brabham Automotive only launched its first car, the BT62, in May 2018, so we have a long road to travel to earn the right to return to compete at Le Mans. That work starts now with a long-term racing commitment. We look forward to developing the BT62 and future products while building a world-class competitive race team around the leading engineering and manufacturing talent we have in the business.” Brabham also stated that the company intends to compete in a lower-level racing series in the future.

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2019 Ford GT Heritage Edition brings Gulf Oil livery to the street

In 1968, a Ford GT40 wearing the iconic Gulf Oil livery and fielded by JW Automotive Engineering won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A year later, the same car — chassis number 1075 — won again, making it one of only a few vehicles to win the prestigious endurance race more than once. For 2019 and 2020, Ford is honoring those historic victories by introducing the GT Heritage Edition. Ford says 2019 cars will wear number 9 and the 2020s will wear number 6, mimicking the racing numbers worn by chassis 1075 in ’68 and ’69.

The most obvious and striking update made to the GT Heritage Edition is the blue and orange Gulf livery. The contrasting colors carry over inside with blue and orange stitching on the Alcantara seats and and steering wheel. An optional package provides exposed carbon fiber accents inside and out, including as a surround for the number on the hood. A unique set of 20-inch on-piece forged aluminum wheels are finished in high-gloss stainless, and orange brake calipers are another nice touch.

Last year, Ford created a Heritage Edition GT in red and white to honor its 1967 Le Mans season. In 2016, it built one for its 1966 victory.

Ford hasn’t put a limit on the number of Heritage Edition GTs it will build, but each will come with a unique serialized identification plate. Check out all the details in the image gallery up above.

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Toyota says it will make a hypercar for the streets

For those enamored with Toyota’s Le Mans-winning TS050 Hybrid race car, good news: it’s going to make production in one form or another. Toyota says that the development of the TS050’s road-going version is already underway.

“We started this project because we believe that creating a super sports car that delivers the same appeal as the TS050 Hybrid greatly adds to Toyota’s involvement in WEC,” said Shigeki Tomoyama, president of Toyota’s motorsport arm Gazoo Racing. “And at some point in the near future, customers will have a chance to get behind the wheel of this incredible machine and experience its astonishing power and driving performance.”

So far, the nearest equivalent to the TS050’s road car version is the GR Super Sport concept, which was shown in January. Back then, Tomoyama hinted that a road car would be on its way. He described it as “a sports car that will more directly convey the TS050’s appeal, while offering easier handling … Although it will be some time before you all have the opportunity to get behind the wheel, I hope that the GR Super Sport Concept will give you a taste of what we aim to achieve with our next-generation sports cars.”

The concept was displayed at Gazoo Racing’s Le Mans set up during the endurance race. The GR Super Sport has the same 1,000-horsepower twin-turbo V6 hybrid drivetrain as the TS050 Hybrid, and it shares much of the same hardware as the race version. The eventual road-going car would easily be the maddest Toyota with license plates.

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