When Gordon Murray first announced his McLaren F1 successor, the T.50, he said his company would build 100 road cars, and 25 track-only versions. The road car debuted a month ago, and today, GMA is giving us our first preview of the race car, tentatively called the T.50S. It’s wild.
“If you think I had fun on T.50, wait until you see this one,” Murray tells Road & Track. “I haven’t had the constraints I had on 50 with trying to keep the car really absolutely pure and balanced. This time we’re driven totally by performance and in particular, aero. So it’s a pretty serious motor.
“I promise you one thing. It’s not a poncy little variant of T.50 with a wing on the back and a different color.”
Freed from road-car emissions and noise constraints, the T.50’s Cosworth V-12 gets new heads and camshafts, a higher compression ratio, a less restrictive exhaust system, and a higher RAM air intake to make 720 horsepower. Redline is set at 12,100 rpm, and the T.50S ditches the road car’s six-speed manual for a paddle-shift XTrac Instantaneous Gearchange System (IGS). The IGS is a single-clutch pre-selector six-speed, which has the next gear ready as soon as you pull the paddle, so you get dual-clutch speed without the weight. Murray says the weight difference between the manual and the IGS is negligible.
As you’d expect with Murray’s obsession with weight savings, the T.50S is substantially lighter than its road car sibling. GMA says the S weighs just 1962 pounds, thanks largely to a much pared-back interior and thinner body panels. “If you haven’t got the durability issues you have with the road car—somebody sitting on the fender and bending it—you can just be a bit closer to the knuckle and just a bit more careful with the layup in certain areas,” Murray says. “So we’ve managed to take quite a lot of weight out of the body.” And while the interior is mostly bare, there is still a passenger seat “for somebody very brave.”
One figure is up, though—downforce. GMA added a new front splitter, dive planes, a central fin, and a delta-shaped rear wing, which looks similar to the front-wing on Murray’s championship-winning Brabham BT52. With the rear-mounted fan spinning at 7000 rpm, the T.50S will generate 3307 pounds of downforce. And it’s capable of more.
“We actually got up to 4189 pounds in CFD, but with the wheel and tire envelope we have on the car, we couldn’t support that. So we decided to back it down to 3307 pounds,” Murray says.
Customers will be able to trim out, too. GMA plans to offer a full trackside concierge service to help customers get their desired level of downforce and ideal chassis balance. “Not everybody is going to be comfortable with 3307 pounds of downforce, for a start. So that needs to be adjustable,” Murray says. “And if you’re adjusting that, then the natural frequency and the damping rates need to be adjustable.” GMA’s “Trackspeed” program will set up your T.50S exactly how you like it, or for individual circuits. Murray says a handful of customers own race tracks, so this is especially important.
Murray is pretty explicit in calling the T.50S a race car, not simply a track car. To that end, GMA held discussions with the FIA and ACO to see what it’d take to get the car to Le Mans, but those talks haven’t borne fruit yet. (I don’t know if they really know what they want,” Murray says.) So, GMA approached Stéphane Ratel, whose SRO sanctions GT racing series around the world. Together, they’re working on a GT1 Club series for T.50S owners to race their cars against each other, with the hopes that other manufacturers will eventually join. As with the original McLaren F1 GTR, GMA won’t run a works team, but instead provide support for customers.
But unlike with the F1, Murray didn’t have to be strong armed into making a race car. GMA has a dedicated team that’s been working on the T.50S in parallel to the road car.
We’ll see the thing in reality before Christmas, and Murray promises that its proper name will be something special. Of the 25 planned, GMA has sold 12 T.50Ss, and considering the road car is now sold out, this is your last chance to get one.
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