The new boss of McLaren, Zak Brown, has said that he’d like to see McLaren racing at Le Mans once again.
McLaren has a relatively short but successful history at the Le Mans 24 Hours. Bruce McLaren himself won the event in 1966 in a Ford GT40, but apart from a privately entered M12GT in 1981 (which failed to qualify) it wasn’t until 1995 that a McLaren car raced there.
That car was the McLaren F1, and one driven by JJ Lehto, Yannick Dalmas and Masanori Sekiya ended up winning at the F1’s first attempt. Best of all, the winning car was sponsored by ‘Tokyo Ueno Clinic’ – a Japanese clinic that specialises in…well, penises.
A McLaren last raced at Le Mans in 1998, but Brown sees it as part of the company’s history and wants to return. Speaking to Autosport, he said “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.”
He went on to say that a Le Mans comeback would probably be in the GTE class, which already features entries from Ford, Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin and, in 2018, BMW. McLarens have raced successfully in the GT3 class but despite the similarities between that and GTE, Brown said that a Le Mans/World Endurance Championship programme “would take several years to put together”.
Ultimately though Brown said that it wouldn’t be his decision, and that the head of McLaren’s Automotive division would have the final say. He also said that he didn’t know if they would build and develop a GTE car themselves or source the work out to ‘McLaren GT’, the company that currently handles McLaren’s GT racing activities (jeez, just how many branches of of McLaren are there?!).
This is all pretty exciting news, even if is going to take a while for it all to pan out. But as exciting and diverse as the GTE category is, the main focus at Le Mans and in the WEC is always on the top tier LMP1 class. If McLaren wanted a shot at overall victory once again that would surely mean building an LMP1 car. When asked about this, Brown said “never say never”.
It’s pretty easy to get excited by those words but it’ll probably never happen, and if it does it wont be for a long, long time. Still, it’s fun to dream!