Photography and article by Gil Folk.
In 2012, McLaren debuted their latest hypercar, the P1, as a successor to the iconic McLaren F1 from the late 1990s. It was developed with one goal in mind — to be the best driver’s car ever. The P1 received praise from automotive journalists and enthusiasts almost as quickly as its 0-60 time. However, the engineers at McLaren must have sat down one day, enjoying a cup of tea and a biscuit, and said, "How can we make the best driver’s car even better on the track?” After two years since the release of the P1, thousands of man-hours and probably countless cups of English Breakfast Tea, McLaren has released a track-only version of the P1: the McLaren P1 GTR.
Boasting 986 horsepower, the McLaren P1 GTR’s powerplant is derived from the same 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8 hybrid engine used in the road-going P1. Yes, I said hybrid; after all, we have to find some way to keep the Green Hell that is the Nürburgring green. Aesthetically, the P1 GTR offers an even more aggressive look to an already dramatic and masterfully sculpted body. The rear includes a rather large fixed wing fitted with a hydraulically operated drag reduction system (DRS) to improve acceleration. The single-exit exhaust of the P1 has been replaced by a titanium twin straight pipe exhaust for the P1 GTR, allowing lucky spectators, and an even luckier driver, to hear McLaren’s famous V8 even more clearly. In the front, the P1 GTR’s track is 80 mm wider than that of the P1. Below the front bumper are the same active aerodynamic flaps used to channel air below and thru the P1. The ride-height of the P1 GTR has been changed to a lowered and fixed right height. The P1 GTR will ride on specially developed, center-locking wheels that measure 10.5 inches wide in the front and a whopping 13 inches wide in the rear. Of course, they will be wrapped in race-proven slick tires.
The P1 GTR will only be available to current P1 owners and will not be available for street use. Each P1 GTR will be tailor-made to each driver’s desires and needs. McLaren Special Operations (MSO) has put together a racing series, similar to the Ferrari Challenge, for gentleman racers to experience their P1 GTRs to their fullest potential.
McLaren unveiled the P1 GTR on Friday, August 15, at a private viewing at Pebble Beach near Carmel, California. It was an invite-only event (all of the invitees were P1 owners) but we managed to get in through the way of some very good connections. The CEO of McLaren, Mike Flewitt, introduced the P1 GTR to the crowd as the cover was lifted and the track weapon was shown in the flesh for the very first time. "Ooohs,” "Ahhs” and "Holy S**t’s” were heard throughout the awe-struck audience as camera shutters snapped and flashes fired away. McLaren executives freely answered questions and discussed key aspects of the P1 GTR to any curious mind in the building. I spent a few minutes with the designer of the P1 and P1 GTR, Frank Stephenson, who is well-known for designing icons such as the Maserati MC-12, Ferrari F430 and the Mini Cooper R53 just to name a few. He said it only took about three weeks to design the McLaren P1. "I enjoyed designing the GTR because I didn’t really have to follow any rulebooks. The P1 GTR will be a very, very impressive car,” Stephenson said.
Despite all the praise and hype that has been built around the P1 GTR since its unveiling, the true test will come when the concrete performance numbers roll in. How will it stack up against the upcoming Ferrari LaFerrari XX? We can’t wait to see.