Compared to Ferrari, Lamborghini, or even Porsche, it’s easy to accuse McLaren of lacking a little bit of soul and passion at times. Their technical, logical, approach to road – and race – cars often leaves us a little cold. But, with the latest addition to the P1 stable, McLaren is trying to inject some passion with reference to a famous Le Mans racer.
This summer will mark the 20th anniversary of the McLaren F1’s racing debut in the 1995 BPR Global GT Series. This was after the F1’s creator, Gordon Murray, had finally given in to the pressure to allow the car to become a racer, despite his insistence it should be a road car only. Despite his apprehensions, the F1 GTR dominated the two short years for which the BPR Series existed; winning the championship both times. 1995 was more special, however, as the F1 also took an impressive win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with McLarens filling four of the top five positions.
At this point, we should note that the colour scheme being used on the new P1 GTR obviously does mimic one of the F1s from that Le Mans success in ’95. Just not the winning one – that was predominantly black/grey, featuring sponsorship from a Japanese plastic surgery clinic. Seriously, we’re not kidding! Instead, the yellow and green Harrods sponsored car took third place, piloted by legendary drivers Andy Wallace, Derek Bell, and his son Justin. The choice of the last podium placing car makes a bit more sense now.
But, less Japanese cosmetics, and more new crazy powered hyper car. The standard P1 is already insanely fast, but McLaren has decided the world needs a track only version. To get one, you’ll need to join McLaren’s P1 Driver Programme – an exclusive club, which can only be likened to the Ferrari Client Test Driver idea. Essentially, lots and lots of money, plus many previous purchases might get you in.
At only 50 kgs lighter than the regular P1, the GTR has hardly been on a crash diet. However, the roof panels and engine cover are now carbon fibre instead of glass, and there’s the addition of a perspex side windows and a titanium exhaust system. More obvious is the giant fixed rear wing in place of the usual adjustable version on the normal P1. Various extra aerodynamic additions help the P1 GTR cut through the air more effectively, and generate 10% more downforce than the road car.
Power from the 3.8 litre twin-turbo V8 is up to 800 PS (789 bhp), coupled to 200 PS (197 bhp) from the electric hybrid motor. In a very McLaren way, that gives a total output of 1,000 PS – something we imagine makes Ron Dennis very happy. He’s probably not as thrilled about it being less than the combined power of the Ferrari FXX K though.
Nobody needs a car like the P1 GTR, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad thing for existing. It’s a toy for the hyper rich but, at least with this show car, it seems that McLaren can at least make the effort to display some soul. The P1 GTR will have an official debut at the Geneva Motor Show, along with the premiere of the McLaren 675LT.