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McLaren: Regs Extension Gives ‘Breathing Space’ for LMDh Call

Zak Brown gives update on McLaren’s LMDh prospects after homologation cycle extension…

Photo: Zak Brown FB

McLaren has welcomed the FIA, ACO and IMSA’s initiative to extend the current homologation cycle for the Hypercar and GTP classes by two years as it gives the brand “more breathing space” to make a decision on whether it wants to join the category according to Zak Brown.

Under Brown, the current McLaren Racing CEO, the British manufacturer has long been known to have an interest in the LMDh ruleset and has been linked to a program in top-class sports car racing.

McLaren holds one previous overall 24 Hours of Le Mans victory when it won upon its debut with the F1 GTR in 1995.

Speaking to selected reporters at Le Mans last weekend, Brown reacted favorably to the ACO’s announcement that the current homologation cycle for both LMH and LMDh has been extended from 2027 to 2029.

Brown said McLaren’s outlook of joining the class before the extension was unfavorable as a 2026 entry was an “optimistic timeframe” meaning it would like have debuted in the final year of the cycle before its extension.

“It gives us more breathing space,” Brown said. “You wouldn’t want to enter a championship in its last season, to just have to go again. And I think 2026 would be an optimistic timeframe for us.

“I think you have to work on a two-year lead time. Since we’re not going to make a decision tomorrow or the day after, I think you’re looking at 2027 at the soonest.”

While Brown declined to state that the extension has brought McLaren closer to signing off on a Hypercar effort, he did note that the longer homologation cycle “helps our business model.”

He added that McLaren’s current position on a top-class prototype program is “probably no different than I’ve been saying for the last couple of years,” saying that it should not get in the way of any of the manufacturer’s current other racing activities.

“We think it’d be great for the brand,” he said.

“We love sports car racing. We have a lot of stuff going on in our business. On the racing side, we’ve needed to get our Formula 1 team back to the front, which now is very close.

“Our IndyCar team is strong. We obviously went into Formula E and Extreme E, so from the racing side, we need to make sure that if we take on another project, it doesn’t disrupt our other activities.

“I’d say I’m very happy, but always pushing to do better with our various activities.

“I think we’re not far away from feeling comfortable we could take on another project without diluting our Formula 1 team, our IndyCar team, our electric racing.

“We’re turning a profit as a racing team, so McLaren Racing is very healthy.

“So then it’s just about timing. I think it takes a couple of years to get ready. Hence the 2026. I think if you’re going in 2026, you need to make a decision tomorrow. We’re not going to make a decision tomorrow.”

McLaren Not Discouraged By WEC’s Two-Car Mandate for Hypercar OEMs

In addition to announcing the two-year extension to the homologation cycle, the ACO also confirmed that manufacturers entered in the Hypercar category will be mandated to field a two-car entry in 2025.

New Hypercar prospect Aston Martin already confirmed that it will step up to field a pair of cars after initially planning to run one.

Similarly, Brown indicated that McLaren will not be put off by the mandate for two cars.

“I think two cars is the right business model,” he said. “So that’s not an issue.”

Additionally, he hinted that a potential McLaren LMDh effort would be factory-focused, although he “wouldn’t be opposed” to the idea of supplying a car to customers.

“Our current business plan would be us going racing as a works team,” Brown said. “I think if a customer wanted to race a car or two, I think that would be something that we discuss whether we want to do that or not.

“But that’s not contingent upon the plan. It would just be who is it, what is it, where is it. Certainly wouldn’t be opposed to it.”

John Dagys contributed to this report

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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