McLaren F1 GTR Celebrates 1995 Le Mans As Part Of Triple Crown

Motorsport / 2 Comments

The McLaren F1 GTR was never supposed to win.

McLaren is currently celebrating 60 years of racing excellence, including the famous F1 GTR and its role in the Triple Crown. The latter refers to a feat few have managed: winning at the Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Monaco Grand Prix.

McLaren is celebrating its victory at Le Mans this week, using the racing version of what many consider the best supercar of all time. Enter the F1 GTR, lots of speed and reliability, and three fast drivers part of a quickly-assembled team.

The funny thing is, the McLaren was never supposed to win. The British brand knew it didn't stand a chance going in because the car was built to GT1 specification, which is a step down from the Le Mans Prototype classes.

McLaren Automotive/YouTube McLaren Automotive/YouTube

As it turned out, the 1995 Le Mans was a wet one. Yannick Dalmas, Masanori Sekiya, and JJ Lehto (the drivers of the winning car) soon realized that they were 35 seconds per lap faster in the wet than even the fastest prototypes, and they capitalized on that. Once the rain dried up, there wasn't enough time left for the prototypes to make up the difference.

McLaren entered seven GTRs that year. Two failed to finish, one obviously won outright, and the rest placed 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 13th. McLaren claimed first and second in their class in the 1997-spec cars, but the GTR never won an overall event again. In fact, 1995 was a one-hit wonder. McLaren had never won it before and has yet to win it again. However, it was the most successful debut of any team at Le Mans.

There isn't a single McLaren entered in this year's Le Mans, though the name is still active in IndyCar.

McLaren Automotive/YouTube McLaren Automotive/YouTube

McLaren still has a lot of Triple Crown celebrating left to do. So far, it has only released a Triple Crown introductory video and another focusing specifically on Le Mans. We think the Monaco Grand Prix will be last, as McLaren is the most successful manufacturer to ever compete in the Monaco Grand Prix. The MC60 wearing the Triple Crown livery this past weekend didn't do too well in the Grand Prix, but at least Lando Norris has a brand-new McLaren 765LT Spider he could cry in on the way home.

For the record, McLaren may not seem like a big deal to the Drive to Survive crowd, but it is a hugely successful racing operation. It's the only manufacturer that can boast a Triple Crown victory, while Graham Hill is the only racing driver that can boast the same. There are currently two (active) drivers who are one race away from glory.

Juan Pablo Montoya "only" has to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, while Fernando Alonso is an Indy 500 victory away from achieving the milestone.

McLaren Automotive/YouTube

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