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With all the recent press about the Production Center, I almost forgot that they also launched this program in parallel. Damn, they've been busy! They probably could have started their own software company to build IRIS, too. Maybe they would have, if they new how the supplier would drop the ball.


Once you know the history, it’s hard not to get excited. Just like the new
MP4-12C, the ground-breaking McLaren F1 of 1992 was intended from the outset to be a road-going sports car, uncompromised by the need to go racing.

But everyone saw that the qualities that made it peerless on the road – the lightness and stiffness of its McLaren carbon fibre chassis, the power and reliability of the engine – would also make it a great racer. And so in 1995, at its first attempt, the McLaren F1 GTR won the 24 Heures du Mans, arguably the world’s greatest, toughest endurance race. It was an extraordinary victory, with three further McLaren F1 GTR race cars finishing in the top ten. No true road car had won Le Mans since the 1960s.

So is history repeating itself? The new 12C is also an uncompromised road car, its performance and handling equalled by its ability to cross cities or continents in comfort. But a few subtle modifications to its genetic code have produced a harder, angrier sibling: the MP4-12C GT3 race car that will take to the world’s circuits for its first full season of racing next year. Every one of McLaren’s competitors in the road car market will be represented in GT3 racing in 2012. McLaren intends to take the same competitive spirit into GT3 racing as that which served us successfully 16 years ago at Le Mans.

The world of motorsport has evolved, and so has McLaren racing DNA with the launch of the MP4-12C GT3.

Andrew Kirkaldy
Project Manager, McLaren GT

The 12C GT3’s development has been incredibly quick but, as you’d expect from McLaren, characteristically comprehensive.

It had its first shakedown in March 2011 and since then has completed thousands of miles of race-pace testing at tracks across the UK, Spain, Portugal and Germany. It was unveiled in May to the world’s media, and in July, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button gave the GT3 its dynamic public debut in front of 180,000 fans at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Days later it made its full race debut at Spa-Francorchamps, where it achieved a remarkable pole position in its first qualifying session. At the end of the month it was entered in the Total 24 Hours of Spa. One 12C GT3 went the full distance, an exceptional result for a race car entered as part of its development programme.

“The 12C GT3 test programme is typically challenging because of the way McLaren develops its race cars,” said McLaren GT executive Chris Goodwin. “The performance of the car has been astonishing, right out of the box, as has its reliability and its driveability. We are very pleased with our progress.”

And that progress continues with the first customer cars now competing. After recently receiving their car, Leeds-based United Autosports debuted their 12C GT3 at the recent Macau GT Cup and achieved a satisfying podium finish after a trouble-free race.

The fixed rear wing, the lower, broader stance, magnesium alloy race wheels, and a carbon fibre aerodynamic package, designed and crafted by McLaren Racing and McLaren GT, give the 12C GT3 a purposeful, stealthy appearance. But underneath there are fewer modifications to the 12C than you might expect. That ultra-stiff, 75kg carbon fibre MonoCell is the same as that in the road car. The 3.8-*litre, twin*turbocharged M838T engine actually has to be detuned to 500PS to comply with GT3 race regulations. The 12C GT3 features bespoke brakes by Akebono - McLaren’s Formula 1TM partners - and a six-speed sequential gearbox. These wouldn’t meet McLaren Automotive’s standards for road-*going refinement, but they’re devastatingly effective on track. The engine calibration, gear ratios, weight distribution, steering and suspension set-up have all been tuned in McLaren Racing’s Formula 1TM simulator.

Oliver Turvey is a development driver for McLaren GT and the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1TM team.

“Even after McLaren’s Formula 1TM simulator, the GT3 still feels fast. It’s incredible that the road car’s engine has to be detuned for racing. The acceleration is spectacular. There’s great power from the turbos and it makes an amazing sound. I have raced single-seaters before so I understand the benefits of a carbon fibre chassis. It gives a real advantage in GT racing as it is the ultimate safety cell, and also means we’re able to more accurately tune our suspension system.”

“But the road car is like that too; on bumpy roads the ride quality is incredible but on the track it’s stiff, and this translates directly to the race car. Inside, the cockpit is of unusually high quality for a race car. We use the steering wheel from the 2008 Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1TM car, allowing me to control most of the car’s functions without taking my hands off the wheel. Gear shifts are operated by using paddles mounted behind the wheel, like the road car, but we use a racing gearbox so the changes are more aggressive.”

“The fact that the 12C is such a good road car makes the GT3 perfect for endurance racing; it’s very driveable with amazing reliability from the engine. The 12C is a beautiful road car, and its racing equivalent is definitely the best-looking car on the grid!”

If all this has made you want to go racing in a 12C GT3, there’s bad news; just 25 will be made for the 2012 season. Unsurprisingly, our 2012 cars are sold out - to some of the best-known, most experienced race teams in the business.

Production has been limited, which means customer teams can look forward to working closely with McLaren GT through their first season with the 12C GT3 and receiving outstanding engineering support. But the GT3’s early performance suggests they won’t have much to do. And our history makes us hopeful for a benchmark first season.
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