CEO Mike Flewitt hasn't ruled out Le Mans 24 Hours entry; it could become possible if 2020 rule changes allow supercars into top class
Matt Burt
7 February 2018

McLaren chiefs have confirmed they are “working on a plan” to go racing with the new Senna supercar, providing a series can be found for which it would be eligible.

The 789bhp, 590lb ft machine was conceived as a road-legal track car with the intention of making it the fastest McLaren yet around a circuit. With some modifications — the car features continually active aerodynamics and adjustable ride height, neither of which is currently permitted in most leading racing championships — it could be readied for competition use.

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“I certainly could conceive racing [the Senna],” McLaren Automotive chief executive Mike Flewitt told Autocar. “I genuinely cannot confirm anything at the minute but we are working on a plan.

“The way it is designed from an aerodynamic perspective, and the sheer balance of our cars, would be very, very competitive. You could never say outright that you’d go and win, but we wouldn’t go in with any other intention.”

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Although the £750,000 Senna sits within the most exclusive tier of McLaren’s model line-up, the Ultimate Series, an unusually generous allocation of 500 examples will be built from this autumn.

By comparison, only 375 examples of the previous Ultimate Series model, the P1, were produced, plus 58 track-oriented GTR versions, and the next Ultimate Series car, the BP23 grand tourer, will be limited to just 106 cars. The production run of road-legal Sennas might have been set at a higher level in order to homologate it for race use.

A possibility could be a return to the Le Mans 24 Hours. Race organiser the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) is planning a major overhaul of the regulations in light of the collapse of the LMP1 category, which has only one manufacturer entrant, Toyota, this year.

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It has been proposed that the ACO will shift the technical rules for Le Mans’ top class back towards road-legal supercars, which could open the door not only for the Senna but also for the likes of the Aston Martin Valkyrie and Mercedes-AMG Project One.

The earliest a rule change could take effect would be 2020. Perhaps coincidentally, that year’s Le Mans will mark a quarter of a century since McLaren’s sole victory in the famous endurance race with the F1 GTR.

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New Le Mans rules would need to be ratified by motorsport’s governing body, the FIA, which will hold its next World Motor Sport Council meeting in Geneva on 9 March — just three days after McLaren will officially reveal the Senna at the Swiss city’s motor show.

In a further development, McLaren has agreed a deal with Toyota to allow Fernando Alonso to race the Japanese company’s prototype at the Le Mans 24 Hours both this year and next. That deal, which also includes several other World Endurance Championship races, will enable him to rack up experience of sportscar racing that would prove invaluable should McLaren enter the category in 2020.

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Our Verdict

McLaren 570S

Is this a genuine supercar slayer for top-rank sports car money, and can it see off rivals from Porsche, Audi and Aston Martin in the process?

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week