Here’s my first post for LaLeMans 2018. This McLaren F1 GTR ran around Circuit de la Sarthe in 1996 with Jacques Laffite, Steve Soper and Marc Duez taking turns in the cockpit. This is a 1:43 scale casting from a brand called “High Speed”.
The #38 was one of seven F1 GTRs entered into the 1996 edition of Le Mans, just a year after their epic debut when 4 of these cars finished 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th overall in the 1995 Le Mans. 1996 though was a different ball game altogether with Porsche entering their own works team in the same GT1 class as the McLarens. BMW, which was supplying their V12s for the GTRs, decided to run 2 of 7 cars, including this #38, as part of their factory team.
With gearbox problems plaguing them, the GTRs did not end up with the same success in 1996 as they did in 1995. Porsche’s works cars took the podium positions, but the McLarens’ performance is still incredible.
Five of the seven McLarens finished in the top 10, taking the 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th overall, with this #38 Team Bigazzi Mclaren F1 GTR finishing 11th overall (and 9th in the GT1 class), while the last GTR ended up as a DNF.
1996 was the last year for these “short tail” GTRs. Come 1997, McLaren went long-tail. But these F1 GTRs did play a (not so known) role in the development of cars for Mercedes. That’s a story for another day.