German tuning firm Gemballa announced that it will enter the GT racing arena with a team of two McLaren MP4-12C GT3 racers for the 2012 season. Now under new management after the company filed for bankruptcy last year, Gemballa plans to take its tuning experience to the track, with aspirations of someday competing races such as the 24 Hours of Nürburgring.
The team will compete under the name Gemballa Racing, and will be headed by former German kart champion Sascha Bert. Along with his karting background, Bert has competed in Formula 3 and FIA GT, and also has a podium finish at the Nürburgring’s 24-hour race on his list of motorsports credentials. Bert was hand-picked by team owner and Gemballa investor Steffen Korbach to manage the company’s new racing operation. Korbach also apparently picked the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 as the team’s weapon of choice for entering the highly competitive world of GT racing.
“We chose the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 because we think this car has the potential to be one of the season’s leaders,” said Korbach. “We have also put together a team of drivers and mechanics who are proven winners.”
Though the 12C GT3 has yet to prove itself in major endurance racing competition, with one car crashing out and the other suffering a fire at the McLaren’s endurance debut at Spa, the platform could prove to be a competitive option for privateer teams. With a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V-8, detuned from 592 hp to around 493 hp to meet class rules, along with a six-speed sequential gearbox designed specifically for racing, the 12C GT3 certainly has all the right equipment needed to tackle a 24-hour race.
While we love hearing about companies going racing, the announcement is overshadowed by last year’s disappearance of company founder Uwe Gemballa, who was found murdered last October in South Africa. With the German tuner now poised to launch its racing career, here’s hoping it can shake free of that cloud of controversy with successes on the track.