McLaren Prepares for Return to Le Mans

The Le Mans series is the oldest and most respected endurance driving series in sports car history. When people debate some of the great cars in the race’s prestigious history, there are a few that rise to the top almost immediately. But for many, the car that tops that list is the McLaren.

mclaren2Legendary auto journalist, Alan Henry, recounts, “In 1995, as a constructor, McLaren won Le Mans at its very first attempt, placing its legendary F1 GTRs first, third, fourth and fifth.”

It was a legendary showing for the McLaren, the type that had spectators drooling and dreaming about the car’s performance for years, debating about its place in history. Spectators, of course, have only been further tantalized in the years since due to the McLaren’s absence from the event.

After competing in 1995, the McLaren only took part in the race for a couple of more years, until 1998. What would have happened if the McLaren had stuck around?

Well, now 16 years since their sudden withdrawal, the McLaren is amping up for another run at the Le Mans title.

In an interview with AUTOSPORT, McLaren GT boss Andrew Kirkaldy said, “I would be very surprised if you don’t see a 650S running at Le Mans at some point and we hope to be there from 2016…That’s what we want to do, but we still need a set of regulations to build the car to.”

The only hold up from making this official is the wait on the GTE’s new, evolved sports car regulations. Currently, GTE (which inspects the Le Mans race) is working on aligning with the GT3 class, so manufacturers can produce one car that will meet the specifications of a wider base of races. These races will include:

  • The World Endurance Championship
  • The United SportsCar Championship
  • The European and Asian Le Mans Series

Kirklady and the rest of the designers at McLaren aren’t too worried about the new specifications, though. Kirklady says, “The new car is not far from a GTE car in some aspects, like the hubs, suspension and bigger wheels and tires.”

The car was officially debuted just two weeks ago at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and will retail for about $564,000. WOW. Like its predecessor (the four-year-old MP4-12C racer), the new McLaren features a carbon monocoque, as well as a 3.8 liter twin-turbo engine.

Kirklady says, “The 650S GT3 is a natural progression of an already successful racer, but we have looked at all the different areas where we could possibly make even the slightest incremental improvement.”



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