McLaren closing on return to the Le Mans 24 Hours with 650S GT car

McLaren is edging closer to a decision to return to the Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time in nearly 20 years

McLaren closing on return to the Le Mans 24 Hours with 650S GT car

The British sportscar manufacturer, which won the race outright with its BMW-engined F1 GTR in 1995, has revealed its desire to produce a GTE version of the 650S GT3 unveiled last week at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

McLaren GT boss Andrew Kirkaldy told AUTOSPORT: "I would be very surprised if you don't see a 650S running at Le Mans at some point and we hope to be there from 2016.

"That's what we want to do, but we still need a set of regulations to build the car to."

The Automobile Club de l'Ouest and the FIA, which jointly write the regulations for the GTE class in the World Endurance Championship, the United SportsCar Championship and the European and Asian Le Mans Series, have revealed an intent to come up with an evolution of the existing rulebook for 2016.

That follows an end to the so-called convergence talks designed to align the GTE and GT3 classes so that manufacturers would only have to produce a single base car.

Kirkaldy revealed that the 650S was already a step in the direction of a GTE car as a result of the convergence concept.

"The new car is not far from a GTE car in some aspects, like the hubs, suspension and bigger wheels and tyres — it is a good step towards that," he explained.

McLaren hasn't revealed whether it has intentions to run a factory team should its GTE-spec 650S become a reality.

This was the case when it was preparing to build a GTE version of its MP4-12C during 2012: it planned to develop the car in competition with an in-house team in the second half of 2013 before releasing the car to customers for 2014.

The car was in the final stages of design and an engine running on the dyno when the plans for convergence were announced in October that year, resulting in the shelving of the project.

DID YOU KNOW...
... McLaren notched up a fourth-place finish the last time its cars graced the Le Mans grid in 1998? Tim Sugden, Bill Auberlen and car owner Steve O'Rourke were the best-placed privateer in the GTC Competition-run long-tail F1 GTR behind two Porsches and a Nissan.

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Author Gary Watkins
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