It was perhaps inevitable, given not just McLaren’s raison d’être but also Gordon Murray’s professional background and expertise, that the McLaren F1 road car would eventually take to the racetrack, even though Ron Dennis had specifically denied such a possibility when the car was launched. Murray had no such plans either. He merely dreamed of building what was quickly and widely to become recognised as the 20th century’s most exotic road car, and at the conclusion of a three-year design-and-build process he had achieved exactly that.
Before long, however, customers were asking for a racing version, and as the 1995 GT season drew nearer the number of requests began to climb. After much persuasion, Murray agreed to produce nine chassis, some in time for the 1995 edition of Le Mans. As the F1 was based directly on McLaren’s racing experience, little in the way of track modifications needed to be carried out. The F1 GTR was, in fact, slightly less powerful than the road going variant due to regulations limiting cars to 600bhp. The F1 GTRs also had to be fitted with steel roll-cages, the steering rack ratios were quicker, and the rubber bushing in the suspension was removed. Development of downforce was limited to a single day in the wind-tunnel under Murray’s direction, while the OZ Racing wheels concealed even larger discs and callipers.
The F1 GTR quickly wrote its name into the record books, with victory at the 1995 edition 24 Hours of Le Mans against faster, purpose-built prototypes. Seven F1 GTRs entered the race, and five finished: taking first, third, fourth, fifth and thirteenth places, an incredible showing for what was essentially a road car. The victory marked some highly significant motorsport firsts: McLaren had won Le Mans at its first attempt; the F1 GTR had won the event in its first year of production, and not even Ferrari had managed that; it was also the first Le Mans win for a Finnish driver, and for a Japanese one, as well as being a first for BMW power. As if that wasn’t enough, the F1 GTR also went on to win the 1995 Global GT Championship. The cars were not only fast, but consistent. The championship-winning car of Thomas Bscher and John Nielsen won only two races that year but was nevertheless sufficiently reliable throughout the season to amass the necessary points to take the title. The greatest supercar of its generation had been transformed into the most successful British sports racing car of modern times.
This fine 1:8 scale model of the McLaren F1 GTR is of the #51 Harrods sponsored car of the Mach One Racing team that took the final podium place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1995. Chassis 06R was sold new to Moody Fayed, the nephew of British-domiciled Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed. Sponsorship came from the world-famous Harrods department store that Al-Fayed owned and the car was painted in a distinctive yellow and green livery. Chassis 06R had already been racing in the 1995 BPR Series when it was entered into Le Mans in the capable hands of Andy Wallace, Derek Bell and his son Justin Bell. By any standards, the 1995 race was an epic. Despite the appalling weather – it rained for 16 of the 24 hours – and transmission issues, which struck the car with only two hours to go, the trio finished in an incredible third position, one lap behind the faster, purpose-built Courage C34 prototype of Mario Andretti, and two behind the surprise winners Kokusai Kaihatsu Racing in a fellow F1 GTR. This fantastic result spurred on some more success, as Andy Wallace would proceed to win three races in a row in the BPR Series behind the wheel of 06R before the year was out.
This model has been handcrafted and finished in our workshops with the co-operation and assistance of McLaren Automotive regarding original finishes, materials, archive imagery and drawings. The use of supremely accurate digital scanning of the original car has allowed us to perfectly recreate every detail at scale. Furthermore, it has undergone detailed scrutiny by both McLaren's engineering and design teams to ensure complete accuracy of representation.