Ridealong: the Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro Is One of the Most Savage Cars Ever Made

Come along for a violent ride in the Valkyrie AMR Pro, a race car developed without any pesky rules or regulations.

byMike SpinelliMay 17, 2022 8:41 PM
Aston Martin Valkyrie Track Drive 14
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First thing’s first: A competition version of the already-batshit Aston Martin Valkyrie hypercar had always been part of the plan. Along with Red Bull Advanced Technologies—and its chief technical officer, the legendary F1 designer Adrian Newey—and engineering partner Multimatic, Aston had been developing what would become the Valkyrie AMR Pro racing car as far back as 2016. 

Hypercars like Valkyrie were part of the plan for pro sports-car racing too. In 2018, the top governing bodies announced Le Mans Hypercar (LMH) would replace Le Mans Prototype (LMP1) as the top class in closed-wheel racing. LMH would be the latest cost-cutting and series-convergence move to make racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship accessible to more manufacturers.

Aston Martin was one of the manufacturers that signed on during the early days of LMH. But as the rulebook firmed up, and the fates aligned to see Aston bound for Formula One, the Valkyrie AMR Pro found itself on the wrong side of the grid. Aston withdrew from participating in LMH, its car unsuited to performance windows dictating maximum downforce and minimum drag, a lower power-output cap (671 hp), a five-year homologation lock-in, and other LMH formula dictates.

Aston Martin

All that development muscle, all those hours in the wind tunnel, all those finely-shaped carbon fiber bits. It would be a shame to see it go to waste.

From Prototype Contender to Track Day Toy

What to do then, but make the Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro a “no rules,” track-only hypercar for private owners. (Ford did something similar with its track-only Ford GT.) The AMR Pro is longer, wider, and lighter than the standard Valkyrie, with the hybrid-electric drivetrain removed and 1,000 horses’ worth of V12 power and 546 pounds-feet of peak torque on deck. That naturally aspirated engine, similar to the “normal” Valkyrie’s 6.5-liter 12-pot, spins to 11,000 rpm, at which point it’s ripping the air a new one.

A pull-away electric starter motor rolls the AMR Pro to 17 miles per hour before the V12 cranks to life; a Ricardo seven-speed sequential gearbox handles shifts in a timely, authoritative manner worthy of motorsport; an aggressive aero kit induces massive negative lift. Indeed, it’s got all the elements of a freaking track monster. It is decidedly not street legal.

On occasion of the Miami Grand Prix, Aston Martin brought a Valkyrie AMR Pro out to Homestead-Miami Speedway to give me a hot lap around the road course. Multimatic Motorsports driver and three-time World Touring Car Championship winner Andy Priaulx would handle pilot duties as I squeezed into my race jammies to sit right seat in the cramped cockpit.

Looking over the byzantine collection of surface lines, channels, wings, and wishbones, not to mention a jaunty pair of wing mirrors that replace the standard Valkyrie’s cameras, it’s clear the AMR Pro was intended as a racing car. It combines the standard Valkyrie’s body curves—penned by a team led by Marek Reichman, Aston Martin’s chief creative officer—carbon fiber tub and underbody channeling with a non-active aero package. That package, with its elaborate front splitter, dive planes and fender vents, and rear diffuser, tail fin, and handlebar-mustache wing, provides over a ton of downforce on top of the car’s 2,205-pound weight. The grand total sums to 4,630 pounds at 211 miles per hour.

Unlike the standard Valkyrie’s active-aero package, the AMR Pro can’t bleed off excessive downforce as it passes the apex of a corner to get a faster exit, but that’s something for Priaulx to work through as we hit the track. Naturally, the AMR Pro is on slicks, and the total amount of mechanical grip is beyond belief of a passenger’s innards.

Unrelenting V12 Violence

A car like this must be seen—and especially heard—to fully appreciate it, so check out the video below to watch me turn into a muppet during what has to be one of the most brutal hot laps I've ever experienced. We tried to set up some in-car commentary, but everything was completely drowned out by the sound of that engine. Which honestly, that's probably for the best. Enjoy, and when you've caught your breath, read on.

A submarine-silent electric glide from pit lane is cut short by the V12’s bark. As we round the circuit to finish our warm-up lap and Priaulx throttles up, I’m already reaching sensory overload. A twelve-cylinder engine at full scream is a rare sound these days, and the AMR Pro makes a heroic noise. The off-throttle pops and bangs, the whine of the gearbox, the squeal of tires provide the contrapuntal response. It sounds even better from trackside.

The AMR Pro has five power settings, starting at 600 hp and going up in increments of 100 hp to 1,000 hp, each setting adjusts traction control and ABS to levels commensurate with the power output. The demonstration car is set to 800 hp, not the full grand. (Aston Martin designed the Valkyrie AMR Pro to do a lap around the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe at Le Mans in 3 minutes 20 seconds, which is around 10 seconds quicker than homologated Le Mans Hypercar entrants, and in the realm of LMP1 cars of years’ past.)

For a civilian ride along, eight hundo offers plenty of physical drama. Rounding turn one on our flying lap, Priaulx goes up a gear and the AMR Pro takes the corner whole. At the end of the first straight we dive into the braking zone. The feeling is what I would imagine it’s like in an F/A-18C Hornet when the tailhook catches the arresting wire on the USS Enterprise. It’s one of those moments when you realize you should have done more core exercises. I swear I’ve gone blind for a second, but I probably just closed my eyes on impulse. 

As Priaulx trails off the brake, we cut through a decreasing-radius bend with cornering forces building. Looking out through the Perspex windscreen, the stripes of the curbing flash by like mini strobes. The sheer physicality required to ride in, let alone drive a car like this on a single lap—not even an hours-long stint at Le Mans—is brutally clear. 

Then, he’s back on the throttle, and we rocket toward the next braking zone, where the tailhook stuff happens all over again, and I have to press my neck hard back into the headrest to keep it from flopping forward. It’s a lesson in the violence of top-class competitive motorsports, even at seven tenths of the limit, and when everything is going well. We take a cooldown lap and roll back into the pits. I squeeze myself out and take inventory of my extremities. 

If you’re looking for the authentic experience of driving an LMP1 car, you could, you know, buy an LMP1 car, along with a racing team to run it. Then again, you could buy a Valkyrie AMR Pro and pay Aston Martin, which plans to host customer track-day experiences at FIA circuits around the world, with support from the Aston Martin Valkyrie Instructor team. Still, you’d also have to learn how to drive a downforce car and, you know, break out the fitness bands so in a year or two you’ll be able to handle the forces without liquifying yourself.

If any of the above sounds appealing, Aston Martin is building 40 units of the AMR Pro, which will go for around $4.25 million each, plus the cost of personalization, spare parts—as track cars will often need—and other necessities.

Money aside, this is no track-day toy for Joey Capital Gains to mess around with on the weekends. It’s a commitment, and it will punish those who treat it otherwise. If you want to experience the closest thing to lapping Circuit de la Sarthe at prototype speeds, you’ve got to go all in.

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