The Story of Chassis 25R
From Europe to Japan and back
The McLaren F1 GTR 'Longtail' was built to capitalize of the success of the F1 at Le Mans in 1995. For the 1997 season of the FIA GT Championship, McLaren developed a longer version of the car, with extended wheelbase and bodywork, which gave rise to its nickname. At the 1997 Le Mans 24 hours race, the Gulf Davidoff McLaren team entered 3 cars bearing race numbers 39, 40 and 41.
Our story here revolves around #39, which was built on chassis #25R (R denoting the race version) of the McLaren F1. The car could not replicate the success of the standard F1 and was dominated by the all conquering Mercedes CLK-GTRs. After the 1997 season, the car was sold off to privateers in Japan, where it competed for many years in the JGTC GT500 class, competing against a host of brilliant machinery including Skyline GT-Rs, Diablos, Vipers, Supras and NS-Xs.
The car also underwent a few aerodynamic and bodywork changes for the class, where it included additional dive planes and a front splitter. And for a couple of years, it wore this eye catching livery, sponsored by Yellow Corn (a motorcycling gear brand!) and was finally retired in 2005.
Post retirement, it was part of a private collection for many years and sold to another collector in 2016. This collector, commissioned McLaren Special Operations (MSO) to restore Chassis 25R to its former glory, down to the last gear ratio used at Le Mans in 1997.
I managed to collect both versions of the car in 1/43 scale, as part of my endurance racer collection. The Gulf liveried #39 is by Minichamps (and sits alongside sister car #41), while the Yellow Corn JGTC racer is by IXO. So which one is your pick?