McLaren Automotive, the British manufacturer of high-performance sportscars and supercars, is finally introducing a certification program for the most fabled vehicle it has ever produced: the McLaren F1.
The launch of the McLaren F1 certification program coincides with the unveiling of the first McLaren F1 to be approved for certification by McLaren Automotive: the chassis number 25 car, more popularly known as ’25R,’ a 1997 McLaren F1 GTR Longtail.
Fully restored to ‘as new’ condition by McLaren Special Operations (MSO), the carmaker’s bespoke specialists, the car has a storied history.
’25R’ started out as one of the three McLaren Longtail cars fielded by the Gulf-Davidoff team to compete in GT racing in 1997. That same year, it also competed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with driving duties shared by Ray Bellm, Andrew Gilbert-Scott and Masanori Sekiya. On the 22nd hour of the race, one of its oil lines fractured, starting a fire that forced the car to retire from the race. Repaired by the factory, ’25R’ was then sold to a team in Japan where it continued racing until 2005 where at the Fuji Speedway, it became the last ever F1 GTR to compete in a race series.
After being on static display in Japan, the car was acquired by the current owner who had it shipped back to the United Kingdom in 2016. Back on its home soil, ’25R’s restoration was entrusted to MSO. Battle-scarred after eight years spent racing, ’25R’ needed extensive work, with a ground-up restoration to bring it to an ‘as new’ condition.
Using new, old-stock GTR parts stored at the factory in containers last opened 20 years ago, ’25R’ was slowly restored down to the ‘tall’ Le Mans gearing and the blue roof identification lights–taken from an aircraft’s wing, and the only non-McLaren part in the entire car–with which the car was fitted explicitly for Le Mans.
Capping the full restoration are the exact Gulf-Davidoff team livery on the car and its number in Le Mans, 39.
“McLaren cherishes its rich heritage of iconic and world-beating cars such as the F1,” said McLaren Automotive Chief Executive Officer Mike Flewitt. “’25R’ presented us with a unique opportunity to demonstrate this by restoring it to precisely how it was when it raced at Le Mans in 1997, thus ensuring its future. Maintaining the integrity of these historically significant cars is paramount and F1 Certified will play a big role in allowing us to do that for the peace of mind of owners today as well as preserving a wonderful heritage for future generations of car lovers.”
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