McLaren P1 GTR puts LaFerrari on notice with 986 hp

With beautiful carbon-fiber bodywork, a complex hybrid powertrain, and a top speed somewhere north of 200 mph, the McLaren P1 is at the pinnacle of cardom. Yet there’s always room for improvement.

The first P1s have barely made it into customers’ garages, but the British carmaker has already announced a track-focused version called the P1 GTR.

The letters “GTR” don’t just have significance for Nissan fans. When the McLaren F1 was unveiled in the early 1990s, it was intended to be the ultimate road car. Yet some couldn’t resist the temptation to take it racing, so designer Gordon Murray and his team begrudgingly created the F1 GTR.

The F1 GTR raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1995, 1996, and 1997, taking the overall win that first year. It also appeared in various sports-car racing series through the end of the decade.

Not bad for a car that was never supposed to be built.

The P1 GTR won’t be a pure race car like its predecessor, but it will be pretty darn close. It will boast 986 horsepower, more than any McLaren production car ever.

1995 McLaren F1 GTROther key features will include racing-style slick tires, widened bodywork and more aggressive styling with further-optimizied aerodynamics. Since it won’t be street legal, the P1 GTR will essentially be McLaren’s version of a track toy like the Ferrari FXX or Pagani Zonda R. It could even tangle with a rumored LaFerrari XX.

Why build a car that needs to be trailered to the track, but can’t compete in any established race series? McLaren says it’s responding to customer demand here, although the technological imperative may be pushing it as well.

The McLaren P1 GTR will go into production after the final regular P1 is delivered. That means it should arrive in time for the 20th anniversary of the F1 GTR’s Le Mans victory next year.

Each car will carry a $3.36 million price tag, but that does include a training program designed to build customer skill with access to McLaren’s racing simulator and other perks.

Given the GTR’s performance potential, that’s probably a good idea.

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