Here’s a cool video of the 1995 McLaren F1 GTR, no. 07R, that finished 5th at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1995. Believe it or not it’s now registered to be driven on public roads. Here we hear more about this historic car from the Concours of Elegance presenters and driver.
Following the F1’s initial launch as a road car in 1995, race teams -including those owned by Ray Bellm and Thomas Bscher – managed to convince Mclaren to build racing variants of the model to compete in the BPR Global GT Series. This mighty race car was named the F1 GTR, and two further versions were developed in 1996 and 1997.
The FI GTR was a custom-built competition machine featuring a modified engine-management system that increased power output. However, with racing regulations dictating the use of air restrictors, power from the BMW
6.0-litre V12 was reduced to 592bhp at 7500rpm. Changes were also made to the suspension, aerodynamics, interior body panels (with the addition of air vents to the nose and sides, plus a massive, adjustable wing). The F1 GTR created so much downforce that it was claimed the car could drive upside down along a tunnel at 100mph.
The F1 GTR became most famous for its success in the 1995 Le Mans 24 Hours, where it ranked 1st, 3rd, 4th and 13th, beating off stiff competition from purpose-built prototypes and more established manufacturers. This result meant that McLaren was, and remains, the only manufacturer to have claimed the unofficial Triple Crown of Motorsport – victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours, Monaco Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500.
Mark Blundell, who finished fourth at Le Mans, said of the Fl GTR that “it was never designed to be a race car, so in many respects it wasn’t the best-balanced car in the world”. He was, however, complementary of the engine: “The saving grace of the car was the BMW V12. It was incredibly impressive in that you could be in sixth gear at 2000rpm and the thing would just pull like a train.And in the wet that is great,as you can run a higher gear and it cuts out some of that traction issue.”
In total, only nine Fl GTRs were built for the 1995 season, and this example, chassis 07R, crossed the finish line in 5th place at Le Mans. It was originally built for the Giroix Racing Team, which campaigned the McLaren Fl GTR in the BPR in 1995 and finished 13th in the team championship.
Interestingly, some of the F1 GTRs were converted to street use after they were no longer eligible in international racing series, 07R is now registered to be driven on a public highway, which means the air restrictors have been removed and mufflers added. Passenger seats have also been fitted and the suspension has been adjusted in order to provide additional ground clearance.