Aston Martin will return to the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 2011 with a new LMP1 racecar designed to compete for top honors.
The new Gulf Oil-liveried car is being designed from the ground-up with an 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 believes it has the opportunity to compete for top honors at the 24 Hour race against tough competition from the diesel-engined competitors of Audi and Peugeot. As with all Aston Martins, the new LMP1 will be gasoline-powered and designed to make the best use of the ACO's 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 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 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."
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.