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Black Magic

Proudly carrying the scars of its twice-around-the-clock battle, the RML McLaren heads for victory, the marque’s first, and thus far only, one at Le Mans. Photo: BRDC

In 1994, I became Technical Director for RML Ltd., which was competing in the RAC British Touring Car Championship. John Cleland and Jeff Allam were our drivers and we were racing Vauxhall Cavalier saloons. The following year John won the BTCC championship.

Graham HumphrysPhoto: Mike Jiggle
Graham Humphrys
Photo: Mike Jiggle

It was during this championship winning year I received a request from Jeff Hazell to help prepare the prototype race version of the McLaren F1 GTR-BMW for the Le Mans 24 Hours. Jeff was responsible for the GTR race program and we had worked together at Spice Engineering. The test program was already active, and was to include a 24-hour test, with information gathered and developments from the test offered to all of the competing teams in an effort to keep costs down, and was McLaren’s way of giving all competing teams equal opportunity. With “Ueno Clinic” sponsorship, an entry was made at Le Mans by the Kokusai Kaihatsu Racing UK. Following the official Le Mans test day, McLaren completed a 24-hour test at Magny-Cours. James Robinson was the engineer responsible for the program. I assisted and got to know the car and people involved. We all gelled well and got on with the business preparing for Le Mans. Once the specification was fixed, information was supplied to all the customer teams. The drivers, JJ Lehto, Yanick Dalmas and Masanori Sekiya were to drive our car. Lehto had tremendous Formula One experience and was incredibly fast. Dalmas had been to Le Mans four times before and had won twice, he knew what was required. Sekiya had F3000 experience in the Japanese Nippon series; he was also a seasoned Toyota driver campaigning in national sports prototype and touring car championships.

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