Are McLaren up to something with this secret Monza test?
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.
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?