JUN 27th 2014

New McLaren 650S road and track versions star at FoS

There were two new cars, some new colours (‘Miura’ green! Move over orange!), tantalising details of next year’s McLaren P13 model and plenty of fighting talk on the McLaren stand at FoS today.

First that fighting talk – a clear pledge, from executive director of McLaren Special Vehicle Ops Paul Mackenzie, that should McLaren lose the hillclimb record of 41.6 seconds this year it will waste no time in trying to get it back.

With more runs than ever timed this year – including a certain Sebastien Loeb in the Pikes Peak Peugeot on Sunday – it is thought there is a good chance the famous record, set by Nick Heidfeld in the McLaren MP4-13 F1 car in 1999, may at last be broken.

‘We will have to regain the record if we lose it. It would be rude not to,’ Paul Mackenzie told GRR.

A McLaren spokesman confirmed: ‘McLaren exists to challenge and to win. But we hold the record at the moment so we don’t have to worry about it.’

It certainly won’t be the P1 that threatens the record this year – McLaren has ruled out officially timing it, unlike some of its rivals. ‘It will be timed but we are not going for it,’ said Paul. ‘Chris (Goodwood) is driving it and will just have a bit of a play, the full beans and burn a few tyres and then do some silent electric running – it makes an amazing contrast.’

There are two new cars from McLaren that probably could rewrite the Goodwood record book: the P1 GTR – the track only P1 with 1000bhp for existing P1 customers, to be launched later this year – and the 650S GT3 which was one of McLaren’s launches here at Goodwood today.

McLaren 650S GT3

The new track racer car is a predictable follow up to the 12C GT3 to contest the GT3 championship around the world from 2015. Headlines are enhanced safety, optimised handling and improved aerodynamics and cooling, all based around the stronger new looks of the 650S, made all the more memorable by an aggressive new splitter. Inside, the seat is now fixed to the chassis with adjustable steering and new pedalbox. Power is the same as the 12C GT3 at around 500bhp, as defined by GT3 rules, but the sequential box is a new one.

Around 15 of the new cars are due to be built for the start of the 2015 season, priced at £330,000 plus taxes. Because of the shared chassis, all the modifications to the 650S GT3 can be made to the 12C racer, extending that car’s life. Also on the practical side, McLaren says cost of ownership has been reduced by increasing engine and gearbox rebuild intervals.

In three seasons of racing, the 12C GT3 won three championship titles, notching up 51 race victories and 71 further podiums. The 650S GT3 will be out to build on that impressive record and we reckon it looks spot on to do it, too.

The second new model launched at FoS is a limited run 650S from McLaren Special Ops, based on a concept car McLaren chief designer Frank Stephenson came up with for the Shanghai Motor Show earlier this year.

McLaren 650S MSO

‘The concept car got such good reaction in China so we pulled some things out of it and decided to do a limited run,’ Paul Mackenzie told us. The special model, with its ‘silver with a touch of gold in it’ bodywork is on show all weekend in the Supercar Paddock.

Paul said: ‘McLaren customers love to make their cars bespoke, and at MSO we can offer everything from special stitching to a whole new body. With the P1 (Paul was project director for the P1) eight out of 10 cars are different in some way. The owners are being really creative when they order. One asked us to match the colour of his trainers.’

But what about more power? Hasn’t the 1300bhp Koenigsegg One:1 upset the applecart? Will McLaren be out to match it?

‘We are not in a top trumps comnpetition on horsepower. But 1300 horsepower is not too much. We have 900 and you can say that’s a silly amount but when you drive it on the racetrack you realise that 600 is just not enough. So I am sure 1300 is hugely fun on a track. We will be looking at things in the future to see what we can do.’

And finally, what about the new road car next year, touted as a rival for the Porsche 911 Turbo. Well, all that press speculation is pretty right it seems. The car, codenamed P13, is on its way – but we are unlikely to see it at the Paris show in a couple of months time – however development is progressing well and it will be in the showrooms next year. The car will use the same carbon chassis as the 650S, and the same twin turbo V8 but of unspecified capacity and lower power. And the price? ‘Around two thirds the price of the 650S.’

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