McLaren sets sights on Le Mans comeback

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McLaren sets sights on Le Mans comeback

McLaren is on course to reenter top-flight endurance racing next year with a version of its MP4-12C sports car eligible for the Le Mans 24 Hours. The British manufacturer, which won Le Mans with the Fl GTR in 1995, has revealed that it is well underway with development of a GTE version of the MP4-12C already racing in GT3. McLaren hasn’t ruled out taking the car to Le Mans itself, but it is more likely that a factory or factory-assisted team will develop the car in race conditions over the

second half of the season in preparation for the delivery of customer cars in 2014.

McLaren’s new GT operations director Andrew Bailey said: “We will be developing the GTE next year. Most of the design work is done and the engine is in development. We might do some races at the end of the year; we are still at the stage where we are weighing up our options.”

Bailey and McLaren Racing’s CEO Martin Whitmarsh have stressed that the organisation’s focus for 2013 would remain on GT3.

It has come in for criticism from its customers this year over the reliability and service provided for the car.

Whitmarsh said he wanted to create “the best possible customer experience” for the owners of the car. He admitted that McLaren GT, a joint venture with CRS Racing, had overstretched itself in delivering 25 cars to customers for the 2012 season.

The project relocated from the CRS base in Leicestershire to the former McLaren International Fl factory in Woking in October.

Bailey said: “We are swinging the GT group under the Fl team and we will see more integration. We want to bring a bit of Fl sparkle to the GT programme.”

McLaren is expected to produce a further 15 GT3 cars for next season. That would take it beyond the 28car production figure for GTR versions, both long and short tail, of the Fl.