Are McLaren up to something with this secret Monza test?

1w ago


We all love fly-by videos, and if you spend more than five minutes on YouTube every day then you have definitely come across Bozzy.

The quite fantastic videographer manages to capture hours of amazing footage from the sidelines of numerous racing venues around the world. One of his favourites, however, is the flat-out Monza circuit.

This week, Bozzy's video offering has motorsport fans scratching their heads. I apologise in advance for some very weird terminology for describing the cars' sounds, but hopefully you'll be able to follow.

The car in question is this McLaren 720S GT3, which is audibly very different to the standard GT3 car. Could this be a hypercar mule?

So let's discuss. First of all watch this video from Lanky Turtle – a YouTuber of similar nature to Bozzy – which records the Compass Racing 720S during testing at Sebring.

You only need to watch the first 14 seconds to have gathered enough evidence to begin posing the questions yourself.

As the mineral grey and bright orange car speeds past the camera before dropping the anchor and bouncing down the gearbox into Sebring's iconic hairpin, the M840T 4.0litre twin turbo V8 engine bubbles and pops.

The car looks amazing, and this is backed up by that throaty soundtrack.

However, fast-forward to Bozzy's video that was released on Thursday, and the differences become striking.

I have timestamped the most important clip for comparison, as the 720S in question brakes for the first chicane at Monza.

Did you hear it? As the car slows for the first complex the difference in sound is incredible. Gone is the bubbly reverberations of the twin-turbo V8, and suddenly a very smooth, whistly deceleration can be heard.

When the driver hits the loud pedal, things don't really get that 'loud'. The typical gruntiness that we have come to associate with GT3 cars is replaced by a prominent 'whoosh', with smoother up-shift transitions.

What's going on here? First of all this could be a derestricted McLaren, and this is actually what the twin-turbo V8 has to offer. GT3 engines are continually messed with during the racing season as part of the Balance of Performance measures that take place to enhance the on-track competition.

However, with this engine sounding SO different, it's left many wondering if this is part of test for a potential hypercar and that this 720S is part of a much bigger plan.

If this was a mule car, it could be testing the engine for a road going hypercar which, if 20 units are produced over two-years, could make a McLaren model eligible for the new WEC hypercar regulations.

Adding to this is the fact that they tested using a layout of the Monza track which shortcuts the first chicane, a rarity that has only been captured when LMP1 teams like Audi, Porsche and Toyota have tested there (See below video).

Now before you get as excited as I did earlier, this train of thought does have a lot of 'ifs'. McLaren have been exceptionally secretive as to their plans for the WEC rules, but have stated that with F1's new 2021 regs, and the increased road-relevance of the hypercar regulations that it is "opportune timing" for the British marque.

Photo: McLaren

McLaren last raced at Le Mans in 1995, when Gordon Murray's spellbinding F1 GTR was steered to victory by Yannick Dalmas, JJ Lehto, and Masanori Sekiya. The car was the first of four McLaren's that finished that race, heading a memorable 1-3-4-5 for the Woking-based brand.

For comparison, here's that very car giving us a fly-by at the hands of two-time Formula One champion with McLaren, Mika Hakkinen.

Is this McLaren testing an engine for a new road car? Or is this the first signs of one of motorsports most exciting comebacks ever?

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Comments (22)
  • Yes, that is a different engine for sure. When considering the fact that the 720S GT3 was released in 2019, it definitely isn't an update for the GT3 car. So that leaves two options, a road car or a race car engine. But I see no reason to test a road car engine in a track car, as the suspension, downforce, and the chassis setup differs greatly from road cars. Therefore, it is obvious that they are preparing a race engine. But if it was for WEC, they could've put it in the Senna GTR, as the 720S GT3 is closer to a GTE category than a Hypercar class. Still, considering the fact that the Senna GTR is a track car, not a race car, we'll have to see...

    12 days ago
    8 Bumps
    • I was going to write something that wasn’t the same as this, but what you say makes more sense than anything i had thought of.

      12 days ago
      3 Bumps
    • 😁

      11 days ago
      1 Bump
  • The engine at Monza was certainly different sounding than the engine at Sebring. It’s difficult to tell, but the whining sound from the car at Monza may have been from electrical motors, which would indicate a potential test mule for the hypercar rules in 2021 in the WEC. Although it may just be turbo noise, so nothing it certain.

    12 days ago
    2 Bumps
    • It may sound like electric motors, and very well could be, but the car does not need to be a hybrid to enter the Hypercar WEC regs. For example, the Aston Martin Valkyrie will not...

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      12 days ago
      1 Bump