McLaren Considers A Return To Le Mans, Which Would Be Awesome

Illustration for article titled McLaren Considers A Return To Le Mans, Which Would Be Awesome

Hey, remember when McLaren showed up to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the 1990s with some F1s and cleaned house? Good times. Now McLaren’s new head honcho Zak Brown says he’d like to take the marque back to the storied race. While nothing is in the works yet, this is exactly what we want to hear, isn’t it? I think it is. Do it, McLaren.


Brown, who was recently hired as executive director of the McLaren Technology Group, told Autosport:

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.

The decision to go back to the most famous endurance race on earth ultimately lies with the McLaren Automotive side and Chief Operations Officer Mike Flewitt, Brown told Autosport, no doubt giving the legions of fans of such an idea an alternate contact to pester about it.

They would also have to determine whether they’d build the car in-house, or allow the wholly separate McLaren GT company that’s been handling their GT3 and GT4 racers build the car. McLaren GT boss Andrew Kirkaldy told Autosport there had already been some discussions of a Le Mans car on their end as well:

There have been discussions, but I can’t say too much. The hope is that we would be involved.

McLaren’s most likely return would be in the form of a production-based GTE race car, which would take several years to put together. However, his response to Autosport’s question of whether they’d like to do a top-class LMP1 prototype racer was “never say never.”

McLaren won Le Mans in 1995 with the F1 GTR and last competed in 1998. They came very close to developing a GTE car in 2012 out of the MP4-12C GT3, but ultimately did not after the Automobile Club l’Ouest failed to bring the GTE spec closer to GT3.


Fans, of course, have been begging for a McLaren entry for years, even going so far as to render what a McLaren LMP1 entry would look like. It’s as if Zak Brown & Co. specifically fed us these lines to gain our trust or something. We eat up any mention of “McLaren” and “Le Mans” in the same sentence every single time.

You know what would really win us over, Zak? Entering Le Mans. I’m just saying.

Moderator, OppositeLock. Former Staff Writer, Jalopnik. 1984 "Porschelump" 944 race car, 1971 Volkswagen 411 race car, 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS.


Brad Landers

This is totally tangential to McLaren’s contemplated re-entry to LeMans, but does anyone else wish that racing series (globally) would return to the good old days of GT1, GT2, GT3, and GT4 naming. For example, right now we have (some equivalencies are loose):

Note: N/A means not applicable; i.e., there is no applicable class.

Status, FIA/ACO [Legacy], IMSA [Legacy]

Europe-only, LMP1 [LMP], N/A [WSC]

Europe & USA, LMP2 [N/A], P [N/A]

Europe & USA, LMP3 [N/A], PC [N/A]

Nowhere, GT1 [GTS], GT1 [GT1]

Europe & USA, GTE [GT2], GTLM [GT, GT2]

Europe & USA, GT3 [GT3], GTD [GTC]

Europe & USA, GT4 [GT4], GS [???]

I almost certainly screwed some of these up, and that’s kind of the point. Racing is a global sport, but you need a tedious cross-reference in order to follow racing internationally. My wife, god bless her, is making an honest attempt at watching IMSA races with me, but I periodically tune in to European races, and most recently the Bathurst 12 (which uses an entirely different set of classes!). When I start to explain the relationship between classes, she glazes over.

The class names change as racing series rise and fall, but IMO, this is bad for the sport. Spectators don’t care about your branding priorities. In football, a goalie is a goalie. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing in the UEFA, Premier League, FIFA, or the German Football Association. Motorsport spectators would benefit greatly from unified class names across series, even if the performance specifications aren’t exactly the same. It’s OK if IMSA GT3 is slightly different from Blankpain GT’s GT3, or if IMSA’s GT2 is slightly different from European Le Mans Series’ GT2.