Video: Le Mans 1999 – GT1's final fling

16th March 2017
Ben Miles

GT1 was effectively dead already. Costs had spiralled out of control, an engineering arms race had lead to the glorious homologation-special road cars that were the backbone of the formula going from low-volume sellers to one-off rule benders.

Come Le Mans in 1999 the LMGTP class contained just Toyota's stunning GT-One, Mercedes's sleek replacement for the CLK GTR – the CLR – and Audi's first attempt at building a car for the great race: the R8C. Porsche and McLaren had packed up their cars and left with the end of GT1, while BMW, Panoz and Nissan had switched to the new LMP class for prototypes (along with Audi, who were experimenting with both leading classes).

But for all intents and purposes, this was the swansong for GT1. The GTP may have had a different class name, but they looked like the cars they had replaced and with the backing of Mercedes, Toyota and Audi there was no reason this couldn't be the start of a great battle between the two top classes for many years to come.

But then the CLR showed its unnerving ability to become airborne, the Audi R8C broke and things were looking bleak already for the class that had dominated sportscar racing for the last five years. When the Toyota GT-Ones suffered multiple problems it was the turn of LMP to take victory, and that class has never looked back. A spooked Mercedes withdrew the CLR from competition straight away, Audi's choice between LMP and GTP was made when the R8R finished third and Toyota's resolve was broken by the late-race failures which snatched victory from their hands.

And so we waved goodbye to some of the most iconic racing cars of all time. We will celebrate the forebears of the CLR and GT-One at the Members' Meeting this coming weekend. But for now, enjoy the last vestiges of this wonderful class, and think what might have been had the Mercs stayed on the tarmac or Toyota clung on for victory.

You can watch the awesome GT1 high-speed demo live, in full and for free with our 75MM live stream right here.

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