This is the Track-Ready McLaren Senna

McLaren's tribute to Ayrton Senna will debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month, but the automaker has given us the photos and details early. Like a 340 km/h top speed, and a special new shade of grey. Plus it'll be the sharpest road car they've ever built.

The late Ayrton Senna won the Formula 1 World Championship three times behind the wheel of a McLaren. To honour that legacy, McLaren has designed what it calls the ultimate road-legal McLaren track car. CEO Mike Flewitt calls it "honed to ensure the purest possible connection between driver and machine and deliver the ultimate track driving experience."

So what does that mean? It starts with a carbon fibre Monocage chassis with carbon bodywork. At 1,198 kg it's the lightest car McLaren has built since the F1. The bodywork is wind tunnel tuned to let it develop up to 800 kg of downforce on track, rocketing it through corners. The body is awash with vents and intakes, all of them functional.

The cockpit is exposed carbon with Alcantara trim. The shift lever is fixed to the driver's seat, so it moves with you to make sure the controls are in the right position. The door and window switches are mounted in the roof, and the button-free steering wheel is unadorned except for the shift paddles mounted behind it.

The infotainment screen is angled toward the driver so that the dynamics information is easily visible when the driver is wearing a helmet. More leather and a wider seat are optional, as is a Bowers & Wilkins stereo that has seven speakers but weighs just 7.32 kg.

Doing the heavy lifting is a twin-turbo V8 with a flat-plane crank and dry sump lubrication. It has lightweight camshafts and pistons as well as repositioned turbo dump valves, all special to the Senna.

The engine makes 789 hp and produces 590 lb-ft of torque over a broad range from 5,500 to 6,700 rpm. An Inconel and titanium exhaust sheds weight and makes sweet sweet music. There are two systems, one for markets that need a quiet mode and one for markets that don't. McLaren describes the noise as like a racing motorcycle, saying it is different from other McLarens. Volume climbs 10dB for every 2,000 rpm, encouraging you to keep the revs high for full song.

The RaceActive Chassis Control II system uses adaptive dampers that are connected side to side and front to back. Data from multiple sensors is analyzed and responded to in two milliseconds. It also has Race mode that increases stiffness and lowers ride height.

In Race mode, the active aero blades and rear wing trim downforce starting at 250 km/h. That's to allow for an increased top speed and not overload the body and wheels with aero forces. The car has special Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires in 245/35R19s up front and massive 315/30R20s in the back. They're designed for dry tracks but to have road use approval. Just watch out for rain, puddles, or if someone has spilt their coffee on the road.

Five new colours have been created to showcase the bodywork. Stealth Cosmos black, Trophy Kyanos blue, Trophy Mira Orange, Vision Pure white, and a new shade of grey: Vision Victory grey. Or you can pick from 34 other colours from McLaren's palette.

McLaren is making 500 of them, for around $1.3 million. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the car is already sold out.  Look for one at high-end track days near you.

Lighter, sharper, more extreme 2/7/2018 3:32:26 PM