McLaren is making its way back into the GT sports car racing scene with a limited number of GT3 racing cars based on the MP4-12C sports car. These models will be designed and developed by McLaren and CRS Racing, and should make their first racing debut in the 2012 European FIA GT3 Series.
"The 12C’s architecture and design was always aimed at high-performance and ease of maintenance - two key criteria for potential customers. Combine that with the vast amount of racing experience in our automotive team, and CRS Racing’s specialist development experience, and the 12C GT3 should be an exciting proposition for the top teams planning to race in GT3 from 2012."
McLaren is confident that the MP4-12C’s revolutionary lightweight one-piece moulded carbon chassis, high levels of downforce and aerodynamic performance, and focus on form and function make it an obvious choice to bring back racing success to the McLaren name. The last win McLaren had was in the McLaren F1 GTR when it won the Lemans Series 15 years ago. The MP4-12C GT3 will be the first McLaren car built for FIA GT series racing since the McLaren F1 GTR finished production in 1997.
UPDATE 07/20/2012: McLaren will line-up nine examples of the stunning 12C GT3 on the grid of the famous Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps next weekend, 27-29 July to contest the Total 24 Hours of Spa. The gruelling 24-hour race is the headline event in the 2012 Blancpain Endurance Series, and one of the most demanding events on the motorsport calendar.
Exterior and Interior
The 12C GT3 looks similar to the production version car, but McLaren has added a new aerodynamics package in compliance with GT3 regulations, incorporating a new front splitter, door blade, rear wing, diffuser, and louvers in the front fenders.
When the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 made its world debut at the 2011 Goodwood Festival of Speed, held from June 30, 2011 - July 3, 2011, the model got a few extra goodies to ramp up their chances at the race. It received a front radiator, which increases the maximum ambient temperature at which the car can run, along with a new gearbox cooler mounted on the rear Aerodeck.
The new 12C GT3 car is based on the standard 12C. It is being built on the McLaren carbon MonoCell chassis, which weighs just 75kg and is produced in a revolutionary one-piece mold. Under the hood, there is the same 3.8-liter twin turbo V8 as found in the standard model, but tuned to racing specifications. The engine will be mated to a 7-speed SSG dual-clutch Graziano transmission operated by a bespoke paddle-shift system developed specifically for racing.
The MP4-12C racing version will also get motorsport-specific braking and suspension components.
New race car manufacturer, McLaren GT, has a busy year planned as they unveil their full team and development program for the MP4-12C GT3 racer. McLaren Group CEO, Martin Whitmarsh, took the time out to present the new MP4-12C GT3 race car and the 12C sports car in action together at Spain’s Circuito de Navarra ahead of McLaren GT’s debut race later this year in the Blancpain Endurance Series. Following the debut race, the GT3 will also be entering the Magny-Cours in France and Silverstone in England, with plans to also take part in the Total 24 Hours of Spa endurance race. The MP4-12C will also be making a special appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on July 1-3, 2011. Piloting the race car during these events will be CRS Racing Team Principal Andrew Kirkaldy, 2010 Vodafone McLaren Mercedes test driver Oliver Turvey, and Portuguese racing driver Álvaro Parente.
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McLaren entered the 2011 24 Hours of Spa with three MP4-12C GT3 supercars, but only one of them - car number 60 - managed to end the race. The second vehicle - car number 58 - was retired by the team following a thermal incident.
However, the most unlucky racer was car number 59. The #59 was hit by a competitor - a black BMW E92 M3 GT4 - which forced the carbon chassis-based 12C GT3 off its trajectory and into the wall at turn 1. Driver, Andrew Kirkaldy, was cleared of any serious injury at a nearby hospital following a precautionary scan. The car was subsequently placed in Parc Ferme at the circuit and awaits inspection by the McLaren GT team engineers.
Kirkaldy said: "I was obviously disappointed that one of our cars was forced out of the race so early. Our performance has been strong in development tests and our debut race at Spa in the British GT Championship showed the car is technically reliable."
From 2012, McLaren Automotive and CRS Racing will supply and support a limited number of FIA GT3-compliant racing cars based on the McLaren 12C high-performance sports car for privateers. Each model will be priced at £310,000 excluding taxes (or about $495,000 at the current exchange rates).
However, at the vehicle’s official launch of the new MP4-12C GT3 race car, managing Director Antony Sheriff talked about the company’s future plans for the GT3. Turns out, the company plans to offer a road legal version which will be limited to about 20 units. It will be go on sale at a price higher than $500K.
In an interview with Inside Line Sheriff also said that McLaren doesn’t have any plans to "over-egg it" with the MP4-12C. A roadgoing McLaren is in the works, but the car will not get various models like Porsche did with the 911.
In March 2012, McLaren announced that a total of 25 new MP4-12C GT3 cars will race across Europe and in FIA GT1 World Championship in 2012. The race debut was made as a safety car in the FIA GT1 World Championship race at the Nogaro circuit in France on April 8-9, 2012.
After seeing all the modifications made to car, the first question that comes to our mind is: Does the new 12C GT3 have what it takes to stand in front of its GT3 competitors?
The main competitior for McLaren newest race car is the Mercedes SLS AMG GT3. This Mercedes is powered by a 6.3-liter V8 engine that delivers an impressive 600 HP. It may have had a tragic start at its Nurburgring debut, but recovered quickly and ended up winning the Nurburgring North Loop. So, does the McLaren have what it takes? We’ll reserve our judgment for when we see it in action.
Impressive aerodynamic updates
Overall look is amazing
Runs like hell
We’ll never actually drive it
Exact power figures aren’t given