McLaren has made its intentions to race its newest Ultimate Series car, the Senna, very clear. that a reveal of a Le Mans-bound Senna GTE race car is imminent, with run in the 2019/2020 World Endurance Championship (WEC) a possibility. Apparently, we'll see this race car next week at the Geneva Motor Show.
McLaren last contested Le Mans in 1998 with the F1 GTR, and the company's new boss, Zak Brown, has previously expressed desire to return to the 24-hour endurance classic. The Senna GTE would be part of a full factory program likely to take on the likes of Porsche, Ford, Aston Martin, and BMW. reports that while McLaren is likely to enter WEC, it's participation in the IMSA WeatherTech series in the US is unclear.
The Senna itself presents a strong case for McLaren's return to Le Mans. With Balance of Performance, all of today's top-level GT race cars theoretically enter a race with very similar power-to-weight ratios, allowing disparate cars like the Ferrari 488 and BMW M8 to exist on a somewhat level playing field. With power and weight essentially taken out of the equation, would-be GT entrants have two areas where they can set themselves apart—aerodynamics, and to a lesser extent, weight distribution.
Ford exploited the hell out of this with the GT, which was designed specifically to have the best aerodynamics of any car racing in WEC or IMSA WeatherTech. Porsche was the first to respond directly to Ford with its new 911 RSR, ditching the 911's classic rear-engine layout in favor of a mid-engine setup. This allowed Porsche to radically improve the RSR's aerodynamics with a new diffuser where there would otherwise be an engine.
Viewed in this light, it's obvious what McLaren is trying to achieve with the Senna. The company has said that this car is intended to be the ultimate road-legal track car, with wild aero designed to make it dominate race circuits. Conveniently, that should make the Senna a damn fine GTE race car given the technical regulations.
It sounds like we'll learn more about McLaren's plans next week. We truly can't wait to see what the company has in store.