McLaren F1 GTR - The Definitive History
By Mark Cole
Twenty-five years on from its famous début victory in the 1995 Le Mans 24 Hours, the wonderful McLaren F1 GTR is the subject of this major two-volume history. Derived from the BMW V12-powered three-seat McLaren F1 road car, the F1 GTR only came into existence because of customer pressure on designer Gordon Murray to produce a racing version. With 28 examples built over three seasons, the F1 GTR was fabulously successful, winning 41 of its 131 races and taking two international championship titles. This sumptuous book outlines the life of the McLaren F1 GTR in exhaustive depth, with Volume 1 devoted to race-by-race narrative and Volume 2 to individual car histories and the stories of the people who raced them, all supported by over 775 colour photographs.
- Design and development of the F1 GTR, including thoughts from Gordon Murray, the car’s designer and also writer of this book’s foreword.
- Racing in 1995: besides the celebrated McLaren victory at Le Mans, F1 GTRs dominated the BPR Global GT Endurance Series, winning 10 of its 12 rounds, with John Nielsen and Thomas Bscher narrowly emerging as champions in Bscher’s West-sponsored car.
- Racing in 1996: a second all-conquering BPR season delivered the championship title to Ray Bellm in his Gulf-sponsored car, partnered by James Weaver, while a campaign in Japan’s national championship saw John Nielsen and David Brabham crowned champions.
- Racing in 1997: the F1 GTR evolved into Long Tail form and a BMW-funded team arrived to join the action, taking all five McLaren victories in the new FIA GT Championship, although the Schnitzer-run team’s quickest drivers, JJ Lehto and Steve Soper, narrowly missed out on the title.
- Racing in 1998: Steve O’Rourke’s privateer F1 GTR Long Tail achieved a remarkable fourth overall at Le Mans, but by now the FIA GT Championship had become a Mercedes benefit and the two participating McLarens were outclassed.
- Twilight years in Japan: two F1 GTRs soldiered on in Japan from 1999 to 2005, achieving one more victory, at Miné in 2001.
- Car histories: all 28 F1 GTRs receive detailed resumés of their lifetimes, complete with period and modern photographs showing them in their myriad guises, often with various changes of colour and livery over the years, plus conversions to road use.
- The people: key McLaren and team personnel provide first-hand recollections, followed by views of the men who raced F1 GTRs successfully, from Le Mans achievers Yannick Dalmas and Derek Bell to multiple winners Ray Bellm, Thomas Bscher, John Nielsen, Andy Wallace, James Weaver, JJ Lehto and Steve Soper.