Aston Martin Valkyrie could Challenge for Outright Nurburgring Record

Aston Martin’s Adrian Newey-inspired hypercar, the Valkyrie, is so extreme that it could challenge for the outright Nurbugring record, which was broken last week by Porsche Motorsport’s 919 Hybrid Evo racing car.

Speaking at the weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing team principle Christian Horner told Racefans that the Valkyrie, not his team’s Formula 1 car, stood the best chance of beating the enhanced World Endurance Championship racer.

“I’m not sure a Formula 1 car could actually do it, but I think that the Valkyrie — certainly the track version of the Valkyrie — could be a contender,” he said.

The 919 Hybrid Evo, which has evolved beyond the regulations that restricted it when it competed and won the WEC, clocked a 5min 19.545sec lap around the Green Hell, beating the long-standing 6min 11.3sec record set in 1983 by Stefan Bellof in a Porsche 956 endurance racer.

But the Valkyrie, which will cost from £2.5 million, will use materials and parts that are more advanced than even the cars of motorsport’s top single-seater rung, thanks to the lack of regulations and development restrictions affecting it.

No expense has been spared as Aston’s designers and engineers, co-developing with Red Bull Racing, seek to make the Valkyrie faster around a lap than exotic alternatives such as the Mercedes-AMG Project One, which, like the Valkyrie, also benefits from F1 powertrain tech.

Although the 1000bhp-plus two-seater’s proportions have been known for many months, Newey, revered as the world’s greatest creator of F1 cars, has found further ways of increasing its aerodynamic downforce as his colleagues finessed details such as headlights, stoplights, scoops and badges.

“It’s been a learning curve for both us and Red Bull Racing,” said Libby Meigh, the Aston colour and materials manager for the Valkyrie project and was in attendence at the recent Autocar Awards. “For us, we’ve learned so much about performance, while Red Bull has had to learn about road laws and safety features.”

Aston and Red Bull Racing expect to start making the planned run of 150 cars later this year, with a schedule to deliver the first Valkyries to customers during 2019. Jockeying for ownership has begun already; following advertisements purporting to offer Valkyrie build slots for sale, Palmer made clear that Aston would do whatever it could to resist premium market trading.

Despite their aerodynamic obsession, the Valkyrie’s creators are at pains to point out that this car is comfortable and surprisingly spacious, accommodating “a wide range of shapes and sizes”. Occupants must step over the lower aero structure to gain access through a pair of gullwing doors reminiscent of access to a Le Mans racer, but with larger openings.

Valkyrie owners will be able to have tailored seats made, if they desire, moulded directly to the car’s carbonfibre tub. Aston is pleased with early reactions to the race-style feet-up driving position, which creates a sense of occasion and allows occupants to be reclined further than normal to create head room. A four-point harness is standard.

The Valkyrie’s interior treatment reflects the keenness of Aston’s designers to reduce driver distractions. The traditional exterior mirrors are replaced by rear-facing left and right-hand cameras, whose reduced size also helps cut drag. The lack of a rear window means there’s no need for a central mirror. All important switchgear is on the steering wheel, which is almost rectangular in shape and has a screen on its central boss showing all vital information. There’s a supplementary central screen for minor functions, but ‘minimalist ergonomics’ is one of the design team’s main objectives.

The Valkyrie’s mechanical package has been decided and is proceeding to plan. The mid-engined car uses a normally aspirated 6.5-litre Cosworth V12, tipped to produce more than 900bhp, while the hybrid powertrain (conventional power is augmented by a kinetic energy recovery system) is understood to have delivered 1130bhp during testing. That means Newey’s oft-stated power-to-weight target of one horsepower per kilogram should be comfortably reached, given that the weight is just over 1000kg ready to drive.

Aston Martin’s Andy Palmer: it’s a landmark car

Signing off the Valkyrie for production represented “a huge milestone”, according to Palmer, who described managing the expectations of Newey, Reichman and production boss David King last year as the “toughest but best challenge to have”.

Palmer said: “The challenge has been working with three very strong-willed people with three very different agendas. Fighting one corner is Adrian, who wants a no-compromise performance car that sets new technical standards. Then there’s Marek, who is responsible for ensuring every Aston is as beautiful as it can be — something he’s not used to compromising on. And then there’s David, who has to make it, to a schedule, to a budget and so on. He has immovable deadlines that the other two constantly try to push.

“At times, it has been interesting. They have all pushed each other so hard. But it’s challenges like these that get you out of bed in the morning.”

Despite the base car costing around £2.5m, with 150 road and 25 track versions being built, Palmer said the project is unlikely to make money. “We’ll be lucky if this project washes its face, but that’s not why we do it,” he said. “This is the 1977 Vantage V8 all over again — a landmark car that gives you the poster-on-the-wall effect. Kids will fall in love with it. Dads will talk about it. It’s a symbolic car.

“Aston Martin is achieving so much and this is the best symbol of all that. We are getting our confidence back — even some swagger, but never arrogance — and what better way to express that confidence than in the Valkyrie.”

Signing off the Valkyrie for production represented “a huge milestone”, according to Palmer, who described managing the expectations of Newey, Reichman and production boss David King last year as the “toughest but best challenge to have”.

Palmer said: “The challenge has been working with three very strong-willed people with three very different agendas. Fighting one corner is Adrian, who wants a no-compromise performance car that sets new technical standards. Then there’s Marek, who is responsible for ensuring every Aston is as beautiful as it can be — something he’s not used to compromising on. And then there’s David, who has to make it, to a schedule, to a budget and so on. He has immovable deadlines that the other two constantly try to push.

“At times, it has been interesting. They have all pushed each other so hard. But it’s challenges like these that get you out of bed in the morning.”

Despite the base car costing around £2.5m, with 150 road and 25 track versions being built, Palmer said the project is unlikely to make money. “We’ll be lucky if this project washes its face, but that’s not why we do it,” he said. “This is the 1977 Vantage V8 all over again — a landmark car that gives you the poster-on-the-wall effect. Kids will fall in love with it. Dads will talk about it. It’s a symbolic car.

“Aston Martin is achieving so much and this is the best symbol of all that. We are getting our confidence back — even some swagger, but never arrogance — and what better way to express that confidence than in the Valkyrie.”

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