1998 McLaren F1 GTR LM
Pilots: B. Auberlan, S. O’Rourke, T. Sugden
Team: Gulf Team Davidoff McLaren / GTC
Race: 4th GC (GT1 class) at Le Mans in 1998
Minichamps - 530184340 (diecast)
The McLaren F1 was developed by McLaren Cars, and was in production from 1992 to 1998. The creator of the F1, Gordon Murray, didn’t have any intention to take his car racing. But right after the launch of the F1, the BPR Global GT Series appeared. In theory it would replace the defunct World Sportscar Championship. Right away, the Big Brands got interested in the series and racing teams were after high performance cars for the top GT1 class. So a few teams asked Murray to make a GT1-spec F1, and for the 1995 season nine McLaren F1 GTR were produced.
But in 1997 the BPR Global GT Series transmuted into the FIA GT Championship, with new rules for the GT1 class. With the new regulations, the F1 GTR had to go through extensive modifications to be competitive. Though it still used the same carbon fiber monocoque as the road car, the entire exterior of the car needed modifications, gaining a much longer nose and tail and a wider rear wing to maximize down force. Theses new cars became known as the F1 GTR long tails.
At the time, McLaren had a partnership with BMW, so the Bavarian automaker supplied the power plant. The engine, called S70/2, was a DOHC V12 displacing 6064 cm³. It counted on 48 valves and though naturally-aspirated, with the mandatory ACO air-restrictors, it produced hefty 592 hp. All that power went to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox. And to stop the car, carbon fiber brakes were on duty. This GTR LM #40 is chassis #24R. It finished in a very respectable 4th place at Le Mans in 1998, just 8 laps behind the winning Porsche GT1-98 #26.
This car wasn’t on my radar, but I found it for an unforgivably good price on eBay. A standard Minichamps model, with very good value for the money, but maybe only for the Le Mans nut. Interestingly, this GTR LM #40 came in a much fancier box than normal. Bigger than normal Minichamps’ boxes, and with a little write-up on the car on the back.