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  McLaren M16B Offenhauser

  Article Image gallery (13) M16B/1 Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1972
Numbers built:4
Designed by:Gordon Coppuck for McLaren
Predecessor:McLaren M16 Offenhauser
Successor:McLaren M16C/D Offenhauser
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:March 18, 2011
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAt Indy, Donohue was joined by works drivers Peter Revson and Denny Hulme. The Sunoco liveried Penske car dominated most sessions but it was Revson who clinched pole. Donohue immediately grabbed the lead and ran away from the field until his gearbox broke. Revson faded away and Hulme retired, handing the win to Unser in an Eagle. Later in the year, Donohue did take two USAC wins with the M16.

Even before the year was out, many of the existing teams had caught up. This had not gone by unnoticed in the McLaren factory and a revised M16B was readied. It featured a shorter nose-cone, which allowed for the rear wing to be mounted further back while still complying with the maximum length. Still very much committed to the M16, Penske bought two new examples for a full USAC season.

Eclipsing the McLarens for outright speed in 1972 was the new Eagle driven by Bobby Unser. Accordingly, he clinched pole at Indy ahead of Revson and Donohue at record pace. Gambling on the retirement of many of the rivals, Penske sent Donohue out with the boost turned down. This strategy paid off handsomely when Donohue inherited the lead with just over a dozen laps to go. Like Lotus almost a decade earlier, it had taken McLaren three attempts to beat the established manufacturers.

Encouraged by Donohue's success, McLaren reworked the M16 once more. Such was the confidence in the basic design that a Formula 1 version was also constructed, which would ultimately win two world titles. The new M16Cs featured a proper engine cowling, revised side-pods and a rounder cockpit surround, which was similar to the one fitted on the M23 Grand Prix car.

In the works squad, Revson was joined by new signing Johnny Rutherford. He immediately qualified the latest M16 on pole for the Indy 500. In the race he was thrown back due to reliability issues and eventually finished ninth. Placing fifth, Gary Bettenhausen's Penske entered M16C was the highest placed McLaren. In the remainder of the season, Rutherford won two races and Bettenhausen one.

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  Article Image gallery (13) M16B/1 Specifications