McLaren could make Le Mans comeback

by Rachel Hack

McLaren Technology Group CEO Zak Brown has stated that he would love the Woking based squad to compete in the Le Mans 24 Hour again at some point in the future.

McLaren won the 1995 endurance race with its BMW powered F1 GTR, with drivers JJ Lehto, Masanori Sekiya and Yannick Dalmas behind the wheel, but ended their participation in the classic event in 1998, where they took fourth place in their final appearance.

Brown believes a return to the historic competition would be a good move for McLaren and hinted that he was not the only one at the team, interested in such a venture, as he explained to recently.

“We have won Le Mans and the race is in our history, and part of my job is to decide where the McLaren brand should race.

“Going back to Le Mans is something we have identified and are discussing. Personally, I would love to see us go to Le Mans, and I’m not the only one with those views.”

Unfortunately, the decision on whether the Woking based squad should make a return to Le Mans is not solely down to the American, and Automotive and Chief Operations Officer Mike Flewitt would have the final say.

The most likely format McLaren would be interested in competing in is GTE, but Brown has not ruled out joining the LMP1 class, or entering into a full World Endurance campaign, though did surmise that it would take them some years to get a project like that off the ground.

Competing at Le Mans had been on the cards for McLaren back in 2012, when they had hoped to build a GTE version of the MP4-12C; however, that project was dropped in the final stages, when the FIA and WEC unsuccessfully tried to combine the GTE and GT3 regulations, a mandate McLaren were not happy with.

Entering Le Mans has always held a strong appeal for the Woking based team, and so they tried again in 2014 with a GTE version of the 650S GT3. However, once again their dreams did not come to fruition, though talks with McLaren GT boss Andrew Kirkaldy on that subject are rumoured to be ongoing, and with Brown keen, we could finally see a McLaren line up on the Le Mans 24 Hour grid soon. Watch this space!

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