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Ten reasons McLaren’s F1 GTR was great

  1. There are a handful of sadists in the world who apparently consider the ‘standard’, road-going McLaren P1 not powerful or pointy enough, nor large enough of rear wing.

    Well, maybe more than a handful. News reached TG this week that McLaren is to offer existing 375 owners of the P1 a chance to buy the brand new P1 GTR. There’s no word on the precise build numbers, but as many as 30 cars may be in the offing.

    So, what exactly is a P1 GTR? Nothing short of a turbocharged, hybrid kick in the plums to Ferrari’s XX programme. It’s a track-only racer that gets 83 more horses over the standard P1’s 903bhp (to make 986bhp), as well as lowered suspension, a bigger rear wing, a new exhaust, a wider track, bigger front splitter, 19in racing alloys and tyres the width of the moon.

    Like the Zonda R, it’s not eligible for any racing series, and like Ferrari’s XX programme, McLaren’s Special Operations will maintain and run the cars as well as offering a special training programme for all drivers.

    This is so the 30-odd P1 GTR owners can spend more of their time enjoying the fruits of McLaren’s extensive engineering labours, and less time in intensive surgery removing track barriers from their ears.

    It also bears an excellent name and paintjob, inspired by the McLaren F1 GTR from the mid 1990s. With news, then, of this new P1 GTR, we have found ten reasons why the original F1 GTR was brilliant.

    Click forth - and if you can think of an eleventh, please comment responsibly below.

  2. It was built in just three months

    In 1994, after pressure from owners who wanted to go racing, McLaren took one F1 road car and converted it to decimate all before it in the BPR Global GT Series in 1995. Which is excellent, but more excellent is the time-scale: the design and development period took just three months, which shows the inherent pointiness and fastness of the F1.

  3. It had a race-spec BMW V12 with many horsepowers

    Like the road car, this McLaren F1 GTR boasted a 6.1-litre BMW-built V12 engine. In race trim, an air restrictor pegged power back to around 600bhp, slightly lower than the road-going F1. The GTR’s weight savings more than made up for it.

  4. It was really quite fast

    0-60mph was said to take less than three seconds and the GTR could reach 100mph in under seven. We imagine all this set to a soundtrack of “OHMYGODTHISISBLOODYLOUD”.

  5. It had a Top Gear-approved Massive Rear Wing

    Racing necessitates certain appendages and vents to a car’s bodywork to aid aero. And look bloody cool. Top of this list is a monster rear wing, attached here for downforce, but one that scores highly in the Really Massive Rear Wing stakes. Tick.

  6. It won the BPR Global GT Series in 1995 and 1996

    BPR took over after the demise of the World Sportscar Championship ended in 1992, and preceded the FIA GT Championship which appeared in 1997.

    It therefore had a very limited window of life - 1994-1996 - during which time McLaren’s F1 GTR took two back-to-back outright victories, thanks to the efforts of Thomas Bscher and John Nielsen (‘95), and Ray Bellm and James Weaver in ‘96.

  7. It won Le Mans in 1995 on its debut

    Oh yes, not content with spanking all comers in the GT championship, McLaren’s little GTR also managed top spot at Le Mans.

    Because in 1995, with JJ Lehto, Yannick Dalmas and Masanori Sekiya at the wheel, chassis number #01R - modified from an F1 road car - raced to outright victory at La Sarthe.

    In fact, at this 1995 Le Mans race, GTRs came in 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 13th. That’s pedigree.

  8. It gave McLaren a very distinct racing honour

    With that victory at Le Mans in 1995, McLaren became the only manufacturer to win the Formula One world championship, Indianapolis 500 and Le Mans 24 hours.

    Which in turn gave the car world a reason to celebrate, because this meant…

  9. It helped spawn a run of five, quite excellent race-inspired F1 road cars

    Yep, witness the birth of the McLaren F1 LM, built to celebrate the GTR’s victory at Le Mans. Just five were built - representing each car that finished at La Sarthe - each featuring a derestricted version of that lovely BMW V12.

    The LM was lighter than the standard F1, featured GTR-spec aero, huge tyres, an upgraded gearbox, and a whopping 680bhp from its V12. This meant it could accelerate to 60mph in under three seconds, hit 100mph in under seven, and top out at over 240mph.

    The LM was also the car Lewis Hamilton was promised as a gift should he win three world championships for McLaren. Well, he’s got one in the bag…

  10. It inspired a part of McLaren's Death Star - sorry, Technical Centre

    We’re told that the MTC’s ‘lakeside façade’ features aluminium wind blades modelled on the GTR’s rear wing support struts. Ah, Big Ron, you strange, wonderful genius.

  11. It will become a future classic

    A ‘long-tail’ GTR recently sold at auction for £3.2 million (pictured), and considering McLaren only ever made 28 versions, we can see prices continuing to head north. Nick Mason’s got one too. Keep it in good nick, Nick.

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