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2019 McLaren Senna Test: A New Lap-Time Benchmark From One of the Best Performance Cars, Ever

You don’t have to be a pro racer to drive the Senna, but you can watch what ours just did in McLaren’s hypercar.

We have some bad news and some good news. The bad news is, this week's episode of Pro Racer's Take marks the season finale of our track-testing series. The good news: We've saved the best for last, as professional driver Andy Pilgrim takes to the NCM Motorsports Park road course for our official track test of the 2019 McLaren Senna.

The Senna is McLaren's limited-to-500-copies track-focused hypercar, but the particular example we had Andy strap into for this on-track throwdown didn't just roll out of McLaren's factory and into press test-fleet duty.

In fact, almost a year ago to the day, we sent our U.K. correspondent, Jethro Bovingdon, to visit McLaren Special Operations at McLaren HQ. There, he worked with MSO specialists to spec the official Automobile 2019 McLaren Senna with a host of custom options; our logo stitched into the seats' headrests serves as one of the most obvious giveaways that there's something a bit personal about this car compared to a bare-bones build. Be sure to read Jethro's full story about his rare experience, including getting the full customer treatment on our behalf throughout both the ordering and delivery processes. We also have full reports from various staff editors who strapped into the McLaren and learned what real life with a Senna is actually like, an equally unusual opportunity even in today's world of seemingly endless high-performance cars.

Performance is one thing the 2019 McLaren Senna doesn't lack for when tested hard, even compared to other contenders in the world of ultra-high-performance offerings. It eschews most creature comforts and most certainly ignores frivolous luxury touches, and instead lasers its singular focus on producing epically quick lap times. This, naturally, is part of what makes it worthy to carry the name of Ayrton Senna, the late three-time Formula 1 champion who achieved his biggest career success, and all three of his championships (1988, '90, '91), driving for the McLaren F1 team between 1988-93.

The "downside" of a car like the Automobile Senna is, you won't be able to extract even half of its ultimate-performance potential on public roads. That's why we sent it straight from the boat to Pilgrim and NCM Motorsports Park, before it arrived at our Los Angeles base: to see what it can do at the absolute limit. We of course suspected it would set a new, all-time production-car lap record around the circuit—but by just how much might it beat the longtime and reigning record holder, the 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 RS?

Hit Play now to see how impressive our official track test of the 2019 McLaren Senna turned out. And while Pro Racer's Take is away on hiatus, review our overall leaderboard for a broad look at how some of the best cars on the market have performed when taken to their limits by our championship-winning race ace and official Automobile track-test ringer.