McLaren promised not to have a factory team competing against their customers at the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans. Then came Ueno Clinic and Paul Lanzante, things changed, and McLaren’s team ended up winning the race. But there are two versions of this story.
The first one I heard earlier from our friend Matt comes from the mechanic who looks after his Ferrari Daytona now, but for a time worked for Ray Bellm’s GTC Motorsport running the McLarens in the BPR series. It goes like this:
Apparently when McLaren put the deal together with Bellm to build the GTR versions of the F1 it was agreed McLaren would never run a works car to compete against them.
With the Lanzante car being loaned by McLaren (along with some mechanics) Ron Dennis actually included a clause that said they couldn’t win the race to (avoid upsetting Bellm), and detailed bonuses for finishing 2nd or 3rd but not 1st.
At the time in the race when they were running second to one of the other McLarens; Ron was on the phone to Lanzante saying whatever you do don’t overtake them. Lanzante got off the phone and told Lehto over the radio to give it everything it’s got!!
After they won the race, Ron, who at the end of the day was more happy a McLaren had won rather than the wrong McLaren, asked Lanzante what did he want as a win bonus? Ron had just taking delivery of a new top of the range Mercedes (presumably a CL600). Lanzante looked at the Merc and said I’ll have that!
Obviously, I can’t verify that Lanzante ignored the team order, but twenty years later, Ron Dennis says the customer teams agreed on giving the Ueno Clinic car the green light to win:
1-3-4-5. Amazing either way.
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