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Race winner #59 Kokusai Kaihatsu Racing McLaren F1 GTR: Yannick Dalmas
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How McLaren conquered Le Mans with a car that wasn't intended to race

McLaren’s F1 supercar was conceived as a production car that wasn’t supposed to race at all – let alone over 24 hours. Yet the GTR competition version triumphed first time out at the world's most famous endurance race in 1995, remarkably with four cars in the top five. As the company celebrates its 60th anniversary, here is its improbable story

It was a car that wasn’t designed to race. And when it did get turned into a racer, it was under the express intention that it wasn’t to be taken to the Le Mans 24 Hours. That decision was reversed, too, but no one expected that the thing could win overall at the French enduro. Yet that’s just what it did, and at the first time of asking. This is the story of arguably the most unlikely Le Mans winner of all time – the McLaren F1 GTR.

The F1 was billed by its maker as the ultimate road car, the fastest production machine in the world. Of racing there was no thought, insisted its creator, Gordon Murray. And besides, when it was being conceived at the dawn of the 1990s, there wasn’t anywhere to race it. That changed pretty quickly in the years that followed the BMW-powered machine’s launch at the 1992 Monaco Grand Prix.

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