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2010-09-14 10:24

Although the cropped teaser sketch is hardly details a comprehensive side profile, the Gulf Oil livery can only mean one thing – a new Aston Martin racer.

Le Mans has a problem.

The world’s greatest endurance race has always encouraged a diffuse array of powertrains in an attempt to make racing as close and interesting as possible.

Unfortunately, common-rail diesel technology has now caused a stalemate at the famous La Sarthe circuit in recent years.

Manufacturers keen to market the appeal of their diesel road cars have recognised that common-rail injected compression-ignition turbos manage to combine the endurance and performance to best the magnificent array of six, eight and 12-cylinder petrol engines which traditionally dominated Le Mans.

The current crop of Peugeot 908 and Audi R15 racers may be technologically admirable, yet they make a drone-like noise careering down the Mulsanne straight.

Having a diesel win each year for the last five events hardly makes for great racing either.

LMP2 rules to become LMP1 standard

To combat this new compression-ignition status quo, the Automobile Club de L’Ouest (ACO), which oversees Le Mans series regulations, has introduced new rules for the 2011 event in an attempt to equalise the performance and endurance discrepancy between petrol and diesel LMP1-class cars.

Fundamentally, the new rules effectively adopt the current LMP2 specifications. According to these regulations petrol engines must be either 3.4l (naturally aspirated) or 2l (with forced induction). Diesels are set to operate with a 3.7l capacity ceiling.

Although 2010 LMP1 entries will be permitted to return next year, stifling air restrictors and mass penalties are planned to trim their advantage.

Where do Aston Martin’s ambitions fit into all of this?

Well, the company’s chairman David Richards (who happens to also be ProDrive’ boss man) believes the new regulations may give Newport Pagnell a fighting chance."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."

An open cockpit, monococque single-seater with a new engine, the 2011 LMP1 class entry would be the first racing Aston developed entirely in-house in half a century.

Aston’s current top-flight Le Mans entry is a closed cockpit prototype originally fettled by Lola, called the Lola-Aston Martin B09/60.


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