Five unique McLaren Senna GTRs, created in celebration of the McLaren F1 GTR race cars that dominated the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in an astonishing display of motorsport achievement that included overall victory, are today revealed by McLaren Special Operations (MSO).
Designated McLaren Senna GTR LM, the five customer-commissioned cars are the latest examples of what is possible when MSO is engaged to undertake unique and bespoke projects. Each is designed and crafted as an homage to one of the five McLaren F1 GTRs that finished the race, crossing the line in 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 13th positions – an unforgettable achievement given that this was the first time McLaren had raced at Le Mans, and coming only three years since its first production road car – the McLaren F1 – had been introduced.
The five cars each wear a bespoke, hand-painted livery that either replicates or pays tribute to the design of each of the 1995 cars. The attention to detail is such that every McLaren Senna GTR LM took at least 800 hours to paint, with individual cars far exceeding that.
“The incredible cars of the McLaren Senna GTR LM collection are an exceptionally fitting way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our Le Mans victory in 1995,’” commented Mike Flewitt, CEO of McLaren Automotive. “That achievement is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest endurance racing performances of all time, but for McLaren its importance was even greater because it demonstrated an immediate and undeniable connection between the racing DNA of our brand and the start of our road car journey.”
Every painted detail on the five cars was finished by hand at McLaren Special Operations. Special permissions were granted by brand owners such as Gulf and Harrods and by Le Mans organiser the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), to recreate logos and trademarks. The roof of each car even features an authentically recreated scrutineering sticker, which is the only piece of vinyl in the livery.
The relationship between each McLaren Senna GTR LM and its F1 GTR predecessor is further fused by the presence of a dedication plaque on the inner surface of the carbon fibre tub denoting each car’s one-off status and its original F1 GTR chassis number identifier. Each car also wears an etched dedication to its Le Mans ‘twin’, including the date of the race, the names of the three race drivers in that car and the position in which they finished.
In addition to the visual power of the liveries and the outstanding detailing, each McLaren Senna GTR LM has a portfolio of exclusive features and technical enhancements that elevate it above the already exceptional track car on which it is based: the McLaren Senna GTR. That remarkable car was engineered to have the highest power-to-weight ratio of any McLaren at the time and aerodynamically optimised to be able to generate more than 1000kg of downforce.
Enhancements to the GTR’s twin-turbocharged, 4.0-litre M840TQ engine include valve spring retainers made from metal matrix composite (MMC) to deliver a 65% weight reduction, higher grade steel for the valve springs and hand-polished, CNC ported cylinder heads.
Recalibration of the powertrain electronics releases power of 845PS – an increase of 20PS over the ‘regular’ McLaren Senna GTR – and revised torque curve characteristics that deliver more torque at lower revs and enable a rev limit set closer to 9,000rpm than the ‘soft limit’ of 8,250rpm.
Other unique LM cues abound. The GTR’s Inconel exhaust system, which exits from the rear deck beneath the rear wing, has been further enhanced by the addition of specially designed LM twin-exit pipes. OZ Racing, which supplied the wheels for the McLaren F1 GTR, created a bespoke, five-spoke GTR LM wheel design. Brake calipers finished in satin gold are another nod to the F1 and the suspension wishbones are in an anodised version of the same colour.
Inside the car, exclusive LM features include a racing steering wheel with anodised gold gear shift paddles and control buttons (in tribute to the McLaren F1’s gold-coloured gear linkage); titanium nitride pedals with LM logos; leather door-pull straps and lightweight carbon fibre racing seats complemented by bespoke headrest embroidery and an MSO six-point racing harness coloured black with body-colour pads.
“We wanted to make a major statement with this collection,’” explained Ansar Ali, Managing Director of McLaren Special Operations. “In creating these incredible cars to the requirements of some of our most discerning customers, we are showcasing the astonishing array of talent we have within MSO – a team that can visualise, design, produce and deliver products that really do take your breath away.
“The McLaren Senna GTR LM project has been a labour of love for nearly two years; we have gone to great lengths not only to perfect the engineering aspects of the cars, but also to gain co-operation from brand holders and partners to maximise authenticity.”
One of those stakeholders is Le Mans itself, in the shape of the ACO. The famous racing club helped facilitate a breathtaking opportunity for the five GTR LM owners. Each one will enjoy a VIP visit to the 24 Hours of Le Mans race with a chance to drive their own GTR LMs around the circuit on the morning of the race, accompanied by the original F1 GTRs that competed in 1995.
“The COVID pandemic has meant that we have had to delay this opportunity until 2021,“ said Ansar Ali. “But each of the owners of these car will still be able to enjoy an unprecedented experience that reflects the unique customer journey MSO is able to offer.”
The cars – five icons reborn
McLaren Senna GTR LM 825/1
An homage to McLaren F1/01R, often referenced as ‘The Ueno Clinic car’ and the outright winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1995.
The car bearing race number 59 was driven in 1995 by two-time Le Mans winner Yannick Dalmas, Japanese veteran Masanori Sekiya and former Formula One driver, JJ Lehto.
The race was one of the wettest in Le Mans’ history, which played into the hands of the bulletproof reliability of the McLaren F1 and also the skills of the drivers – especially Lehto, who was so quick in the wet his team tried to persuade him to slow down.
The charcoal grey livery branded with the name of Japanese sponsor Ueno Clinic was not widely recognised at the time but has since passed into legend. The MSO team has faithfully recreated it on the McLaren Senna GTR LM, precisely matching the colour by mixing a new tone dubbed ‘Ueno Grey’ – a fitting tribute to achievements of the car, and of course its three drivers.
This car has been very authentically reproduced from the original race-winning F1 GTR, echoing every last detail right down to recreating car 59’s unique driving lamps, which have been specially commissioned by the GTR LM’s owner*.
The OZ Racing wheels are finished in matching grey, completing the menacing look that still sends shivers down the spine of race fans 25 years after the chequered flag fell.
McLaren Senna GTR LM 825/6
An homage to McLaren F1/06R, often referenced as ‘The Harrods car’. Car number 51, driven by an all-British line up of Andy Wallace, Derek Bell and Justin Bell, might well have won had it not suffered a transmission glitch two hours from the flag that saw Wallace have to nurse the car home in third place.
The car’s famous yellow livery with bold green stripe bore the name of iconic London department store, Harrods – and that prestigious relationship has been reunited for the GTR LM. While the colours have been worn again by a McLaren since the 1995 race – a McLaren P1™ GTR was finished in the livery in 2015 – this is the first time that the famous Harrods logo has been seen on a McLaren for 25 years.
The MSO paint team used a vivid colour called Solar Yellow for the body of the car, and that distinctive wide stripe is applied in Heritage Green, shadowed by a matching green pinstripe and green detailing within the front aero diffuser.
McLaren Senna GTR LM 825/2
An homage to McLaren F1/02R, often referenced as ‘The Gulf car’
Brazilian Maurizio Sandro Sala joined Brits Mark Blundell and Ray Bellm behind the wheel of the McLaren F1 GTR for 291 rain-lashed laps of La Sarthe in 1995, eventually finishing in fourth place.
Car number 24 had arguably the most iconic livery of any of the cars. The Gulf Racing blue, perfectly reimagined here by MSO as Gulf 95 Blue, fits the McLaren Senna GTR LM seamlessly. Its ‘Gulf 95 Orange’ pinstripe traces the rear diffuser and the imposing shape of the rear wing’s LMP1-style endplates, tracks along the lower sill and unites at the front with vivid orange blades on the front splitter.
The OZ Racing wheels conform to the theme, being finished in equally vivid orange, while the lower sills and roof stripe are painted in Gulf 95 Silver. The actual Gulf Oil logo appears on the bonnet and doors, and a finishing touch is provided by Ayrton Senna’s signature boldly recreated on the rear quarter of the bodywork.
McLaren Senna GTR LM 825/7
An homage to McLaren F1/07R, often referenced as ‘The Jacadi car’
Car number 50 was run by French-based customer team Giroix Racing. Two French drivers – Fabien Giroix and Olivier Grouillard – joined Swiss pilot Jean-Denis Deletraz to bring the car home in fifth place, just a lap down on the Gulf car.
The unmistakeable royal blue livery was proudly French-themed and has been preserved by the McLaren Senna GTR LM’s new owner by the specification of a startlingly bright colour called Le Mans Blue for the body of the car. It looks particularly stunning on the GTR LM’s massive rear diffuser.
That blue is complemented by a blue metallic called ‘Polaris’ [check], and further offset by the use of authentic Elf logos belonging to the French oil company which sponsored the 1995 race car. The car is the only one of the five to wear the French Tricolour flag.
McLaren Senna GTR LM 825/5
An homage to McLaren F1/05R, often referenced as ‘The Cesar car’Displaying the most intricate livery design of all the McLaren F1 GTRs that raced in 1995, car number 42 finished 13th position, completing the McLaren roll of honour of finishers.
Run by French team Société BBA, the striking car was driven by an all-French line-up of Jean-Luc Maury-Laribiere, Marc Sourd and Hervé Poulin. Maury-Laribiere and Poulin were pioneers of ‘art cars’ and asked renowned artist Cesar Baldaccini to envisage a livery for the F1 GTR they would be racing at Le Mans.
An experienced endurance racer, Poulin’s fine collection of racing trophies became the inspiration for Cesar’s work on the McLaren.
McLaren Senna GTR LM 825/5 is a modern reinterpretation of the livery, drawing in new elements, such as pole position lap times; contemporary race trophies and Le Mans branding cues.
An immensely complex piece of work produced using many techniques – including extensive airbrushing – this was the car that took longest to paint, to the point where MSO stopped recording the time taken. As an estimate, several thousand hours of work were needed to finish the project to exemplary standard that is now so evident.
All five McLaren Senna GTR LMs have now been completed and will be delivered to owners in the United States, Europe and the UK. As with all bespoke commissions created by McLaren Special Operations, their value remains undisclosed unless the owners choose to share this detail.