Once the world’s fastest production car, and winner of the 1995 Le Mans 24 Hours, this is the McLaren F1 GTR.
Following its victory at Le Mans (the first time either a manufacturer or team had won the race on their Le Mans debut), McLaren’s Ron Dennis and businessman Kazumichi Goh decided to take the car to Japan, forming McLaren Team Lark, and taking on the country’s domestic teams in the newly formed GT500 championship.
The Lark McLaren F1 GTRs were dominant, comfortably beating domestic rivals from Nissan, Toyota and Honda to win every GT500 race in 1996 bar one.
So dominant was the F1 GTR in fact, that the organisers effectively legislated it out of the championship, imposing so many restrictions on the team that they withdrew before the start of the ’97 season.
The result, after that single all-conquering year, was that the rest of the GT500 teams considerably upped their game. GT500 cars became much faster, more exciting, and more technologically-advanced, and thus the ongoing success of the GT500 Championship has more than a little to do with a little British car that entered for just one season some three decades ago.
This wonderful homage to the short-lived but spectacular Team Lark McLaren F1 GTRs comes from TLCB debutant brickengineeringdude, who has recreated the ’96 championship-winning racer brilliantly in brick form. 3D-Printed wheels, tyres decals, and a superb approximation of the Team Lark livery make brick’s F1 GTR instantly recognisable, and there’s much more to see at their photostream via the link.
But what of Team Lark and GT500? Well owner Kazumichi Goh went on to buy an Audi R8, and with it won the 2004 Le Mans 24 Hours, becoming only the second Japanese team to win the race outright. Meanwhile Japan’s GT500 championship has gone from strength to strength, but has never again been won by a non-Japanese car since the Team Lark McLarens of 1996…