McLaren Eyeing Sports Car Program, Says LMP1 Costs Must Come Down

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McLaren is seriously considering launching a Le Mans Prototype 1 program, but not until the FIA World Endurance Championship gets its house in order.

Zak Brown, McLaren’s technical director, recently reaffirmed the British manufacturer’s intent to compete in the LMP1 class, but not until the WEC puts cost-control measures in place, according to Motorsport.com. In recent years, the costs to run LMP1 programs have risen significantly, such that those teams require nearly as much financial backing as Formula One operations.

The premier WEC class likely will be altered in some way to ensure its survival following Audi and Porsche’s exit from the sport. And Brown reportedly thinks any changes should be aimed at making the prototype cars cheaper to produce, while still utilizing advanced technology.

“I believe the WEC has an opportunity to hit the reset button, Brown said.

“R&D needs to be a benefit for any manufacturer in motorsports, but it’s not the only reason to do it. If it’s not an efficient spend, there’s no point — it should be in proportion to the payback. At end of day, motor racing is a marketing exercise.”

The American executive pointed out that the WEC’s LMP2 class, in which teams spend roughly $5 million to run a car for an entire season, is proof that controlling costs doesn’t compromise the quality of racing.

In addition, he thinks the WEC could learn from IMSA’s Daytona Prototype international model. The relatively affordable DPi class, which was introduced in 2017, has attracted manufacturers such as Cadillac and Acura to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

“If the WEC can replicate the same spirit and cost effectiveness of a rules package with an element of hybrid technology — of which I’m a big fan — then we’re interested,” Brown said, via Motorsport.com.

Brown already said in February that he wants to take McLaren back to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Considering the brand and its founder, Bruce McLaren, are a huge part of Le Mans’ history, such a move would be very beneficial for the WEC.

Thumbnail photo via McLaren

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