While the wait for the Mercedes SLS AMG roadster version continues on, Mercedes is making the wait a little more bearable by surprising us with another SLS AMG: the GT3 version. The sports car will compete in the 2011 racing season.
The SLS AMG GT3 features a new new front apron with a splitter, the bonnet with central cooling air vent, wider front and rear wings, sideskirts with cooling ducts for the rear brakes, a rear diffuser and the adjustable rear aerofoil.
The race car will be powered by the same 6.3-liter V8 engine, but has been tuned to deliver an impressive +600 hp, a pretty significant spike from the road-going version of the SLS AMG which comes with a "standard" 571 hp.
Also on the interior, the SLS AMG GT3 version will drop all of its luxury amenities, including the air conditioning, navigation, and upholstery. Instead, the car’s interior will be stripped down to only include a steel rollover cage, a racing bucket seat with a six-point seat belt and HANS system.
UPDATE 09/22/2011: Tobias Moers, Member of the Board of Directors and Head of Vehicle Development for AMG has confirmed that the SLS GT3 would not be racing in the US market because the company did not want to go through the added expense of re-certifying it for use on US soil.
UPDATE 02/10/12: The third part from Mercedes’ series on the SLS AMG GT3’s production has been released. This video talks about the seat customization for the illustrious race car. Enjoy!
UPDATE 04/16/12: With the success the Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 enjoyed last year, it was only fitting that Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, would release a video chronicling the successful season the SLS AMG GT3 had last season while competing in a multitude of races all over the world. Check out the video by scrolling through the photo above.
Full story and press release after the jump.
Mika Häkkinen Returns to Racing in the SLS AMG GT3
After four years of absence, Formula One and DTM driver Mika Häkkinen will make a comeback to the racing world as a guest driver in the SLS AMG GT3. He will participate in the season finale of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup on 13th November in Zhuhai (China) next to DTM driver CongFu Cheng and Lance David Arnold of Germany.
Mercedes released an official - and extensive - walk around the Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 race car, giving us even more reason to fall in love with this fast, powerful, and highly versatile racer. As a relative neophyte in the world of 24-hour endurance racing, the SLS AMG GT3 needs to be on par - if not better - with the rest of the field in terms of both performance and reliability. If you there’s a video that will show you everything you need to know about the aerodynamic features and performance capabilities of the SLS AMG GT3, it’s this one.
Abu Dhabi 24-Hour Endurance Race
The early returns of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 race car turned out to be extremely positive after the car’s first participation in a 24-hour endurance race netted a third overall place finish. The Abu Dhabi 24-hour endurance race, saw the involvement of three teams running the SLS AMG GT3, led by the no.7 Black Falcon finishing third overall behind drivers Thomas Jager, Jan Seyffarth, Kenneth Heyer, and Sean Paul Breslin. Meanwhile, the SLS AMG GT3 Heico Motorsport finished seventh place overall, while the second Black Falcon placed 24th overall. Not a bad start to the SLS AMG GT3’s 24-hour endurance race career.
2010 VLN long-distance championship at the Nurburgring
The Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 won the ninth race of the 2010 VLN long-distance championship at the Nurburgring. The car was raced by Thomas Jäger (33) and Christopher Haase (23) as part of private team Black Falcon. The duo began in seventh place on the grid with both drivers showing tremendous driving skills that led them to their eventual victory. Thomas Jäger started the race off by speeding past three other cars and reaching fourth place in the very first lap with their SLS AMG GT3, start number 738. After that, the gull-wing racer made its way past several other cars to take the first place position in the 10th out of 20 laps. Christopher Haase then took over and was able to keep his position by attaining the fastest lap time of the race (9:24.565 minutes) on the 13th circuit.
Coinciding with the market launch of the SLS AMG on 27 March 2010, Mercedes-AMG is presenting a GT3 variant. This racing version of the gullwing model stands out with its spectacular design and thoroughbred motor sports technology. Developed to comply with the GT3 specifications of the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile), the SLS AMG GT3 is designed as a racing sports car for customers competing in sprints and long-distance races. These race series for near-series GT cars are noted for their very varied participants and great excitement. Not least because of their comparatively favourable cost structure, they are enjoying increasing worldwide popularity.
AMG, the performance brand within Mercedes-Benz, is entering a new business sector with the new SLS AMG GT3: the development, production and marketing of sports racing cars intended for customer use. Sales of these customer cars are expected to commence in autumn 2010, and homologation of the GT3 variant will be completed in time for the 2011 racing season.
"Thanks to uncompromising lightweight construction and superior handling dynamics, the SLS AMG provides an outstanding basis for a highly competitive racing car. This exciting GT3 version is our response to strong customer demand for a car designed for these attractive motor sports series. Once again, it demonstrates AMG’s huge experience gained in more than 40 years of motor sports, and its great expertise in the development of unique high-performance cars," says Volker Mornhinweg, Chairman of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.
The new SLS AMG GT3 is an emphatic continuation of AMG’s commitment to motor sports. AMG has been a pioneer in the motor sports world ever since its foundation in 1967. The new racing version of the SLS AMG is developed and produced by AMG in close cooperation with HWA AG. HWA is responsible for the DTM racing team on behalf of Mercedes-Benz Motorsports. The HWA team is one of the most successful in international motor sports, as witness nine driver championships in the DTM and ITC, as well as two championship titles in the FIA GT Championships.
The SLS AMG GT3 is set to write another chapter in this success story, and harks back to the 300 SL racing sports car of 1952 which first established the "gullwing" legend. Its historic victory in the "Carrera Panamericana" long-distance race also made Mercedes-Benz a household name in North and Central America, and demonstrated the know-how and expertise of the Stuttgart-based automobile company.
Spectacular racing car looks and top-class performance
The new SLS AMG GT3 is wide, flat and has spectacular racing car looks. The main focus when modifying the body of this gullwing model was on aerodynamic performance – as is seen not only in the new front apron with a splitter, the bonnet with its central cooling air vent and the wider front and rear wings, but also in the the side wheel arch air vents, the sideskirts with cooling ducts for the rear brakes, the smooth underbody with a rear diffuser and the adjustable rear aerofoil. All these features ensure a low drag coefficient and maximum downforce – while guaranteeing effective cooling of thermally highly stressed components. The C-pillars accommodate the standardised filler pipes for the fast-refuel system.
The FIA will determine the maximum output of the AMG 6.3-litre V8 front-mid engine with dry sump lubrication on the "Balance of Performance" principle. This is intended to ensure that all the racing cars taking part have an equal chance. The classification process, during which the kerb weight is also determined, will be completed in 2010. Power transmission in the GT3 variant is by a sequential six-speed racing transmission with steering wheel shift paddles and an integrated multi-disc locking differential. As in the standard SLS AMG, the transmission is located at the rear axle: the engine and transmission are connected by a torque tube within which a carbon-fibre shaft rotates at the engine speed, as in the roadgoing version.
The wheels are located by a double-wishbone suspension of forged aluminium at the front and rear. Adjustment facilities for the springs and shock absorbers, the suspension height, the stabilisers, the track width and camber allow an individual setup for the racetrack. Rack-and-pinion steering with a more direct ratio and speed-sensitive servo assistance make for extremely agile handling. Behind the central-locking AMG light-alloy wheels, a composite steel racing braking system with racing ABS ensures outstanding deceleration.
Functional racing car atmosphere in the interior
The interior of the SLS AMG GT3 is dominated by a functional racing car atmosphere: the steel rollover cage not only ensures the driver’s safety, but also adds additional reinforcement to the aluminium spaceframe. Another eye-catching feature is the racing buucket seat with a six-point seat belt and HANS system (Head and Neck Support). The central display is perfectly positioned in the driver’s field of vision, and shows all the relevant information such as speed, engine rpm, operating temperatures, lap times and the selected gear. The open-top racing steering wheel with gearshift paddles makes perfect vehicle control possible.
Additional controls are located on the centre console. This is where the driver can not only start the AMG V8 engine or adjust the traction control, but also select reverse gear or – if the worst comes to the worst – activate the integrated fire extinguisher system. The adjustment control for the brake balance is located on the torque tube tunnel.