McLaren returns to 24 Hours of Le Mans after 26 years

It was in 1995 that a McLaren F1 GTR was driven to outright victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, beating a number of faster sports prototypes and making history in the process.

McLaren would return with the F1 GTR for another three years, resulting in a second place overall and a win in the GT1 class in the 1997 race.

Now, 26 years on, McLaren is finally making its return to the Circuit de la Sarthe, this time with the 720S GT3 Evo. The race car shares many components with the 720S supercar as well as the current 750S supercar, itself an evolution of the 720S. This includes the carbon-fiber tub and twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 engine.

The V-8 has undergone some modifications for racing, including restrictors to meet Balance of Performance rules. Here, the engine is also paired with a 6-speed sequential transmission instead of the road cars’ 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. Other key modifications made for racing were in the areas of aerodynamics and suspension, McLaren said.

2023 McLaren 720S GT3 Evo race car

2023 McLaren 720S GT3 Evo race car

2023 McLaren 720S GT3 Evo race car

2023 McLaren 720S GT3 Evo race car

Three examples of the 720S GT3 Evo will be entered in this weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, in the LMGT3 class designed for cars derived from production models. Two of the cars will be fielded by United Autosports which is competing in the full 2024 World Endurance Championship season, whose highlight is the Le Mans race. The third car will be fielded by Inception Racing.

Confirmed drivers include James Cottingham, Nicolas Costa, and Grégoire Saucy in the number 59 car, a racing number shared with the winning F1 GTR in 1995; Hiroshi Hamaguchi, Marino Sato, and Nicolas Pino in the no. 95 car, and Brendan Iribe, Ollie Millroy, and Frederik Schandorff in the no. 70 car.

Going up against the McLarens in the LMGT3 class will be race cars based on the Aston Martin Vantage, Chevrolet Corvette Z06, Ferrari 296 GTB, Ford Mustang, Lamborghini Huracán, Lexus RC F, and Porsche 911.

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