A pivotal part to the legend of a supercar is to establish a racing pedigree. Having found success in the quarters of closed road circuits and the expense of the open road in the 1990s with the McLaren F1, it is clear to McLaren the winning formula for the MP4-12C is to unleash a true athletic version for sports car racing. Preparing for competition with supercar rivals including Lamborghini Gallardo and the Aston Martin DBRS9, the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 car plans to reseat the British performance house as the perennial favourite in sports car competition.
Upon announcing plans on going sports car racing Mark Vinnels, McLaren Automotive’s Program Director stated, “It was an obvious decision to take the 12C racing. From the early stages in the car’s development we were integrating key members of McLaren Racing into the road car development team and this blend of experience and skill, combined with a ‘can-do’ attitude and desire to push what is technically possible, has led to both a great road car and a unique racing car.”
Formulating McLaren GT in conjunction with British motorsport team CRS Racing, the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 car metamorphosis into a competition car is under supervision by Team Principal at CRS Racing and McLaren GT Project Manager Andrew Kirkaldy. “CRS Racing is delighted to be working with McLaren. The expectations are high and rightly so. Together we share the passion for design, engineering innovation and racing success that will ensure the 12C GT3 is the most competitive in the series from 2012.”
Planning to roll out the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 in select events for 2011, McLaren GT is referring to this season’s activities as the development stage. Involving, of course, Formula 1 technology utilized by McLaren’s top-flight grand prix team will be playing an important role in advancing the McLaren GT team’s learning curve. McLaren GT’s Project Manager Kirkaldy boasts about the success of lab-based testing after the race car’s first field test. “The performance of the car in Navarra was testament to the work we were able to do in the McLaren simulator in selecting the right set-up for the car. The virtual and real world versions of the 12C GT3 felt near-identical.”
The simple beauty of the McLaren MP4-12C supercar is romantically fitted for auto racing. Built around the same MonoCell chassis as the street version, the GT3 version of the McLaren MP4-12C utilizes the lightweight but enduring construction produced through Resin Transfer Molding. Doors to the race-purpose, driver-oriented interior proceeds to rise in the same majestic style as the exotic production car. With only minor aerodynamic additions under the GT3 category rules, the race-fitted MP4-12C exterior has been modified with exclusive carbon fiber pieces. A front splitter underneath special front fender louvers, rear diffuser and door blade are all unique touches to the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 car.
Though the McLaren MP4-12C is already a tempting high-performance creation for the street, the vehicle vital mechanicals require an entire refitting to meet the rigors of auto racing. To best suit the GT3 class rules, engine power from the MP4-12C GT3’s energetic 3.8 liter twin-turbocharged powerplant has been reduced by almost 100 horsepower. Producing roughly 592 horsepower, engineers of the detuned McLaren MP4-12C GT3 are actually excited to see how the produced-based mechanics will perform in race competition.
GT3 is a special 6-speed sequential transmission. Weighing 80 kilograms (just under 176.4 pounds) than the street version‘s 7-speed gearbox, the special sports car transmission is developed by the reputable hands of Ricardo. A diverse British-based engineering firm with history going back to 1927, Ricardo other contributions to motorsports includes co-development of the Xtrac used by Formula 1 teams. Completing the performance trim of the race car, Akebono-supplied brake calipers and Michelin tires are fitted to the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 supercar.
For 2011, the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 race car will be running at least three Blancpain Endurance Series races. Making a race debut on the Spanish Circuito de Navarra circuit on May 22nd, the McLaren GT and the MP4-12C GT3 car will also run the Magny-Cours round on August 27th and the Silverstone race on September 10th. The Total 24 hours of Spa is also indicated as part of the McLaren GT development program. Team Project Manager Kirkaldy looks forward to the work in 2011 paying dividends for 2012. “We want to make doing business with us a pleasure. If we can celebrate race wins together in spring 2012 then even better!” After the 2011 development period, a full campaign for the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 begins in 2012 as the car enters the FIA GT3 series or the Blancpain Endurance series full-time. McLaren will supply 20 cars for customer teams for the 2012 FIA GT3 series season with an additional 20 planned through to 2014. McLaren also mentioned they are willing to consider expanding the program.
Once the McLaren MP4-12C enters competition, it will be interesting to note the new British supercar is likely to face McLaren’s one-time ally. Entered into competition this year, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is actively competing on the FIA GT3 circuit. In 2012, we can see the partners turned rivals fight for glory with their, modern, desirable sports cars.
Information and photo source: McLaren Automotive