McLaren in Sportscar Racing
Most people associate the McLaren name with Formula 1, but they've a long and successful history in sportscar racing.
In the 1990s, Gordon Murray, McLaren's designer, produced the ultimate road going sportscar, the F1. Based around an unusual 3 seater design and a bespoke BMW 6.1 litre V12, this car lifted the supercar genre to new levels, making the XJ220, F40 and Bugatti EB110, look cumbersome, old hat and slow.
As the BPR's GT series gathered momentum, it was inevitable that (very) wealthy individuals would pressure the McLaren factory into letting them race the F1. Despite initial resistance, McLaren finally gave into the owners who said they'd race with or without factory help.
The first racing F1 was a fairly lightly modified machine, but was good enough to leave all but the fragile F40s in their wake and take victory in most BPR GT races and outright at Le Mans in 1995.
The arrival of the second wave of GT supercars, in the form of the Porsche 911 GT1 in 1996, saw the McLarens outclassed, but heavy modifications to the car for 1997, and a helping hand from the FIA in the form of a restriction on the Porsches' turbo engines, saw the McLaren as the only car to directly challenge the Mercedes CLK Group C look-alike.
1997 McLaren F1 : Photo Club Arnage
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