Bill Auberlen Drives The McLaren F1 GTR: Video
2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the McLaren F1 GTR’s incredible victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. That incredible achievement was historic on multiple fronts, not the least of which is its distinction of being the last street-based GT car to win the world’s most prestigious endurance race. To commemorate the McLaren’s milestone victory, BMW Driver Bill Auberlen took the F1 GTR #017, for a commemorative lap around the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course.
It’s worth noting that the F1 GTR isn’t the actual car that took home the checkered flag at the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans. This one placed eight at the 1996 edition of the race. The little switch-a-roo notwithstanding, that achievement is still held in high regard within the racing community, largely it ushered in an era of dominance for McLaren. In addition to winning the 1995 race, the F1 GTR also finished 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 13th overall. The year after that, the F1 GTR placed 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, and 11th in the race, followed by 2nd and 3rd place finishes in 1997.
You’re probably wondering at this point how exactly BMW is involved in this? Well, back then, McLaren didn’t have its own engine to call on so it sourced the V-12 engines it used in the F1 GTR from BMW. As such, the Bavarian manufacturer won as an engine supplier in 1995, four years before it won its first and only Le Mans title with the LMR V12 prototype.
Auberlen’s lap around the McLaren F1 GTR is impressive in a lot of fronts, none more so than the rippling sound of that BMW V-12 engine that’s as crisp as ever. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think that the engine was actually brand new.