McLaren mulling a return to Le Mans by 2016 with the 650S GT3

It’s been awhile, but McLaren has a rich history with LeMans.

In its first entrance into the French 24-hour race, the British supercar manufacturer took 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 13th with the BMW-engineered F1 GTR in 1995. McLaren continued to race throughout the mid-90s, but success dwindled as the years went on.

In 1998, just two F1 GTRs were entered, and only one managed to place, in fourth. The next year, the GT1 class (where the GTRs resided) was abolished, and thus McLaren was no longer eligible. The Brits tried one more year in a different class, but the car failed to finish and McLaren’s tenure at Le Mans was over.

However, according to a report by AutoSport, McLaren executives believe the time for a return to Le Mans is rapidly approaching.

Andrew Kirkaldy, boss of McLaren GT, said, “I would be very surprised if you don’t see a 650S running at Le Mans at some point and we hope to be there [for] 2016. That’s what we want to do.”

McLaren would likely use a variant the 650S GT3 supercar that was just unveiled at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last month. The car is already a stripped-out, track-bred racehorse, so it would take minimal modifications to qualify the GT3 for Le Mans.

“The new car is not far from a GTE car in some aspects, like the hubs, suspension and bigger wheels and tires — it is a good step towards that,” explained Kirkaldy.

The 650S GT3 is riddled with racing aerodynamics and technology, and features a 3.8-liter, twin-turbo V8 that produces 493 horsepower. It’s mated to a six-speed sequential transmission and pneumatic paddle shifters.

It’s nice to see an ambitious, aggressive attitude from McLaren in 2014. The Brits smashed records with the monumental P1 in 2013, wowed with the 650S and 650S GT3 this year, and are planning to release a new car every year until 2019.