The complete specs of the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 have just been released, and contained within them are details regarding the car’s performance, race participation and the total number to be built. Developed for the GT3 class of the FIA GT series, the 12C GT3 carries the distinction of being the first McLaren GT car to compete since the McLaren F1. The car’s debut year in racing will be handled by McLaren GT, a joint venture between McLaren Automotive and former McLaren privateer team, CRS Racing. Throughout the 2011 season, the team will be fine-tuning the car for its eventual delivery to customer teams in 2012.
Since the road-going version of the MP4-12C uses technology derived from Formula 1, it only makes sense that the racecar would too. While newly formed McLaren GT doesn’t have all the resources the McLaren Racing Formula 1 development team enjoys, the organization does have close ties with F1 suppliers, which it believes will give it a competitive edge in GT racing. Just as with the MP4-12C road car, the GT3 utilizes a full carbon-fiber monocoque chassis. Unlike the road car though, the racecar adds a GT3 class-compliant all-carbon fiber aerodynamics package, which includes an adjustable rear wing, front splitter, front fender louvres and rear diffuser.
The twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V-8 used in the production version also appears in the GT3, only detuned from 592 horsepower to around 493 horsepower in line with class rules. McLaren also claims that detuning the engine optimizes power output for the track and provides a better performance balance for the car. Replacing the seven-speed Seamless Shift dual-clutch transmission is a six-speed sequential racing transmission developed by British engineering firm, Ricardo. Featuring lightweight construction, this transmission reduces weight in the rear and moves the car’s center of gravity further forward, improving the drive wheels’ tire grip as well as the car’s braking ability and overall handling performance.
For brakes, McLaren GT contacted Japanese brake manufacturer Akebono, which has supplied braking systems for McLaren’s Formula 1 program in the past. Six-piston monoblock calipers clamp down on 15-inch ventilated brake rotors in the front, while four-piston calipers put the squeeze on 14-inch discs in the rear. As you’d expect, the 12C GT3’s suspension is tuned for racing, with adjustability for ride height, camber and toe on all corners. The steering wheel is taken right out of the McLaren-Mercedes MP4-24 Formula 1 car, featuring a vast array of buttons, switches and knobs.
McLaren GT plans to race the 12C GT3 in a number of races throughout the 2011 FIA GT season, beginning with the inaugural race at the Circuito de Navarra in Spain. While also planning to race at Magny-Cours in France and Silverstone Circuit in Great Britain, the capstone event for the 12C GT3 will be the 24 Hours of Spa, where it will test its endurance mettle going up against archrival Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 and Porsche 911 GT3. That race will help McLaren GT to further develop its racecar, which it will then offer for sale to privateer teams for 2012.
Twenty cars are scheduled to be produced for customer teams, and McLaren GT claims to already have plenty of interest from potential buyers. Following the initial 20 cars, McLaren GT will build up to 20 more GT3s through 2013 and 2014. Although the 12C GT3 carries on the sports car racing legacy of the McLaren F1 racecar, the company won’t be aiming for the top level of competition any time soon. While racing the 12C GT3 at Spa is just the beginning of the car’s racing career, McLaren has no plans to try and take the checkered flag at Le Mans again.