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'Unshackled' production McLaren Senna GTR unveiled

All 75 were sold when the car was just a concept; here's what those GTR buyers are in for

By Matt Bird / Friday, March 08, 2019

On the face of it, you would imagine the market for cars that can only be used on track and yet can't be entered into any competition might be quite small. After all, that's a pretty rarefied niche that's being catered for. McLaren has certainly carved out some success with it, though; the earlier Sprint cars having introduced the idea, then been followed up with the P1 GTR and now this, the Senna GTR.

You'll remember it was first shown as a concept this time last year, and sold out very soon after the Geneva reveal. Now McLaren has revealed exactly what a production Senna GTR will be, with the 75 buyers (not all of whom are 'standard' Senna customers, interestingly) no doubt eagerly anticipating their new arrival.

The 825hp as suggested in 2018 has remained, achieved through removal of the second cat for reduced back pressure (plus, handily, more noise) and a rework of the ECU. Note, too, how the exhaust now exits where the standard Senna's does, not at the side as on the concept. The reason? Going out the back is "the shortest, quickest route for exhaust gases to exit, saving weight and reducing complexity." Can't argue with that.

Given the rumours, it may come as a little bit of a surprise to find that a GTR is just 11kg lighter than its road car sibling, at 1,188kg dry. However, don't forget what's been added in - wider rear tracks (77mm at the front, 68mm at the rear) and the accompanying bodywork, air jacks, fire extinguisher, an integrated roll cage and harness mounting points as part of the tub. For those keeping up, this carbon structure is Monocage III-R.

As a car that's said to take the street legal Senna "several steps further into the realm of ultimate performance", and to ensure that weight loss, a lot of the equipment has been ditched, including the audio system, airbags, touchscreens and window glass - they're now polycarbonate. Air conditioning is retained, though; after all, if it's deemed necessary for racing drivers, it's probably sensible in an 825hp track car. Why do people even think about ditching it?

Anyway, the most significant step into ultimate performance for the GTR comes in the aerodynamic work. It would take a lot to make a Senna look meek, but a GTR might just do it, the ludicrous aero addenda across the car showing what can happen when there are no constraints. The rear spoiler has changed pretty significantly from last year; reprofiled with LMP1-style endplates and relocated further back (its trailing edge now outside the car's footprint), it's paired with the diffuser to make "best use of the air flowing over the rear of the car." All the work on the splitters, diffusers and active aero parts has resulted in a peak downforce figure of "more than 1,000kg", comfortably surpassing the standard car's 800kg.

Interestingly, McLaren reckons there's an equivalent amount of downforce to the roadgoing model in the GTR at a 15 per cent lower speed, said to make the car "even less pitch-sensitive and enhancing stability in all situations." It's part of McLaren's pledge to make 95 per cent of the GTR's abilities open to 95 per cent of customers, ensuring that "the incredible track driving experience it offers is not exclusive to professional racing drivers." Therefore the approachability of the regular one is retained (it really is a very easy car to reach your limits in), only with 720S GT3 bits - brakes, suspension set up, slick tyres - to make it a bit... racier. Which sounds like quite the combination.

For full 'because race car' kudos, the GTR gets a pit lane speed limiter, radio system, GT3-style wheel, onboard cameras and, most interestingly, a 'Wet' drive mode alongside 'Track' and 'Race'. It's actually tailored for use on wet tyres, and provides greater support from the ESP and ABS, to hopefully prevent anything embarrassing happening in adverse conditions.

So that's the GTR, McLaren's "fastest, lightest, most aggressive and engaging" car yet. With standard Senna production approaching completion, expect the GTRs to be rolling down the line at Woking very soon. And 75 very excited customers to be taking collection not long after that.

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