McLaren's tenure at the 24 Hours of Le Mans was legendary, but brief. Thanks to a wild confluence of events, McLaren won the grueling endurance race in its very first attempt, when the F1 GTR, shown above, took the checkered flag in 1995. But the brand's last appearance at the Circuit de la Sarthe was in 1998. With the recent success of McLaren's road car division, it could be time for a Le Mans return—something the company's new boss, Zak Brown, is very interested in.
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, Brown expressed his desire to return to Le Mans, possibly in the GTE class. "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," Brown told Autosport. "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."
Despite the fact that Brown is in charge of the entire McLaren corporation, the final decision on returning to Le Mans would fall to Mike Flewitt, the CEO of McLaren Automotive. Even if it were to enter the GTE class at Le Mans–where cars including the Porsche 911 RSR, Ford GT, Ferrari 488, and others compete–a program would take years to develop.
Currently, McLaren GT, the racing division of McLaren Automotive, campaigns the 650S GT3 and 570S GT4 in various series around the world, but it would need to build a new or heavily modified car for GTE. Considering that the road-going 650S is soon to be replaced by the new 720S, this seems like a good opportunity for McLaren GT to develop a racing version of the brand-new supercar.
As for a full-on LMP1 prototype to go for outright victory? In general, building such a vehicle takes years of development and can demand an eight-figure investment. But as Brown told Autosport on the matter, "never say never." Though we wouldn't be surprised if such a plan holds a lower priority for McLaren right now—the company, after all, has a struggling F1 team to worry about.