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McLaren announces road car range

Stephen Dobie
16 Apr 2009

Ron Dennis switches from Formula 1 team role to take charge of McLaren's new supercar range

McLaren’s supercar project is edging closer to reality, with Ron Dennis cutting all his involvement with the Formula 1 team to head McLaren Automotive, which is to become a separate, independent company.

Over two years of development has already gone into the spritual successor to the McLaren F1 (main pic), which remains the ultimate supercar to many petrolheads. There will be a range of pure McLaren sports cars, headed by the first model (spy shots, right) which is expected to take on Ferrari’s F430 replacement in 2011. Road car ties with Mercedes, which culminated in the McMerc SLR range, will be severed once that car finishes production and its SLS AMG replacement launches.

McLaren Automotive intends to raise fresh equity to add to existing investment. Dennis said – ‘with planned additional investment in the company of £250million, proposals in place for a new McLaren car production facility in the UK, and the potential for up to 800 skilled jobs, McLaren Automotive’s expansion will represent a significant investment in the UK automotive industry.’

With Dennis focusing on road cars, Martin Whitmarsh is CEO of McLaren Racing and took the reins before the start of a season that’s got off to a bit of a tricky start for the team.

Dennis has said it’s been easier than he imagined to sit back from F1 responsibilities, though, and leaves saying ‘I admit I’m not always easy to get on with. I admit I’ve always fought hard for McLaren in Formula 1. I doubt if Max Mosley or Bernie Ecclestone will be displeased by my decision. But no one asked me to do it. It was my decision.

‘I feel enormously enthused about the prospects for the McLaren Group and for McLaren Automotive, and have no qualms about leaving Martin to report to the board regarding matters connected with Formula 1.’

Whitmarsh and the F1 team are certainly up against it so far, the new MP4-24 GP car struggling against rivals and Lewis Hamilton facing controversy. The team currently sits eighth in the constructors’ championship, with one point.

Read evo's ultimate test of the McLaren F1, against other roadgoing icons, right here.

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