Following McLaren’s decision to end production of the MP4-12C in order to focus fully on its new McLaren 650S, the British supercar maker’s GT arm announced that it will build a track-focused McLaren 650S GT3 race car. Teased earlier this month, the new GT car will replace the outgoing 12C GT3 racer for the 2015 season of competition.
Like all McLarens of late, at the heart of the McLaren 650S GT3 is a lightweight carbon fiber chassis. Powering the latest GT car is the same 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine as before in the 12C GT3, still producing about 493 hp to fall in line with FIA class rules. New to the McLaren 650S GT3 is an improved six-speed sequential transmission, as well as more aggressive carbon fiber body work that offers better cooling and more slippery aerodynamics. Up front the now-familiar McLaren styling is amped up with a more aggressive splitter and beefier air intakes, while the rear benefits from a fixed carbon fiber rear wing as well as a carbon fiber splitter.
For even better drivability and grip, the McLaren 650S GT3 boasts a new racing suspension with a 2.0-inch wider track to accommodate the new, larger tires. McLaren says that this not only improves front-end grip, but it also increases steering feel when turning in. Forged aluminum eight-spoke wheels have been added alongside a new braking system with six-piston calipers up front, four-pistons on the rear, and vented discs all around.
Inside is a lighter rollcage, as well as a new chassis-mounted McLaren GT racing seat with a standard six-point harness. The feel is overall very similar to that of the previous 12C GT3, but McLaren says that a few changes make it more comfortable thanks to better ventilation and cooling, and more interior space.
There’s no word on exactly how much faster or better-performing the McLaren 650S GT3 will be compared to its predecessor, but expectations are high given the 12C GT3’s three championship titles and overall rise to prominence in the GT circuit. About 15 units of the McLaren 650S GT3 will be sold to racing customers, with a jaw-dropping price tag of $551,500 excluding taxes.
It’s not all bad news for the roughly 20 owners of 12C GT3 race cars, though. McLaren will be selling an upgrade package with the same performance upgrades that can be fitted to the old car’s shared chassis. The McLaren 650S GT3 is currently testing and will begin production in the fall, in time for the 2015 GT season.