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Gordon Murray’s vision in creating the McLaren F1 was to create the ultimate road car, not to develop a vehicle for racing (similar to Ferruccio Lamborghini’s goals in starting his own automobile company). However, unlike Lamborghini, Murray cut his teeth designing some of the most famous Formula 1 cars in the world. It’s perhaps no surprise then that when the F1 hit the streets, lots of people wanted to see what it could do on a racetrack. Murray reluctantly agreed to create the GTR, a competition-only variant of the road car. Little had to be done, as the F1 was essentially a racer already—cooling ducts were added, and a wing was bolted onto the back. With these modifications, the F1 GTR won Le Mans outright—the first time a new marque had ever won the race on their first try. By 1997, however, the competition was fiercer and McLaren was forced to modify the GTR further. The “long-tail” version has better downforce, with completely revised bodywork and a de-stroked engine for better longevity. This car, #43, managed third place in the 1997 Le Mans race, behind a Porsche prototype and another F1 GTR. After 1997, BMW pulled out and the F1 GTR program ended, leaving behind an incredible racing legacy for a car that was never intended to race.
The F1 GTR was a racing variant of the McLaren F1 supercar, used in racing series such as the BPR Global GT Series, FIA GT Championship, JGTC, and British GT Championship. It is most famous for its overall victory at the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans where it won against faster purpose-built prototypes. In 2015, the McLaren P1 GTR, which is based on the F1's successor, the P1, was released as the successor to the F1 GTR, although it is not used for racing.
The Forza Motorsport series has featured three variants of the McLaren F1 GTR, each with different liveries:
1997 McLaren #41 Team McLaren F1 GTR
1997 McLaren #43 Team BMW McLaren F1 GTR
1998 McLaren #41 Gulf Team Davidoff McLaren F1 GTR
The McLaren F1 GT was released in 1997 alongside the F1 LM as homologation specials of the F1 GTR.
The F1 GTR used the same naturally aspirated BMW S70/2 V12 as the F1, but downtuned to 591 hp (441 kW) and 388 ft·lb (526 N·m) in compliance with regulations. Its displacement is also now just 6.0L.
Its notable drivers included Ian Flux, James Weaver, Ray Bellm, Maurizio Sandro Sala, Jake Ulrich, Masanori Sekiya, Yannick Dalmas, and JJ Lehto.