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The McLaren MP4-12C: The Essence of a Race Car
experience and development tools have played a key part in readying the 12C GT3
for its 2011 race program. But, before the racing car takes to the competitive
grid, McLaren, in the form of McLaren Automotive set out to develop a
high-performance sports car that set new standards for speed, handling,
efficiency, braking and driveability: formed from an obsession for aerodynamic
purity and lightweight engineering. Assets and goals that make the McLaren
MP4-12C a perfect road car from which to develop a race-winning GT car.
Once plans were agreed to take the 12C racing, key members of McLaren
Automotive's design and engineering teams were eager to support this natural
step at McLaren.
Mark Vinnels, McLaren Automotive Program Director, said:
"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. At the McLaren Technology Centre
headquarters we walk past the McLaren F1 GTR that won Le Mans in '95 every day.
Racing has changed since then, and we have no plans to develop a McLaren to win
Le Mans outright again, but car number 59 is truly inspirational for us all."
Frank Stephenson, McLaren Automotive Design Director, said: "Conceptually,
the 12C road car and future McLaren road cars are 'easy' cars to design. We
strive for form that is driven by aerodynamic efficiency, and this rules out
arguments over styling or unnecessary bodywork details that can easily become
dated as fashions change. Our design team is passionate about designing cars
that tell you what's going on under the skin and remain relevant: we are an
engineering company at heart and we shouldn't hide that fact. That's why
supporting the development of the GT3 car was a great project to work on: the
car needs more air to breathe and needs even greater downforce to hug the track.
Yet it also has to quicken pulses as it goes about its business. The GT3 car
really gets the heart racing!"
Under the McLaren Orange skin, the 12C GT3
shares the same 165 lbs (75 kg) carbon 'MonoCell' chassis as the 12C road car.
Since the modern McLaren was formed in 1981, the company has used only carbon
fiber for the chassis construction of all its road and race cars: it was a
natural choice for the heart of the MP4-12C. Lightweight construction and
manufacturing innovation through Resin Transfer Moulding was a priority for the
engineers and designers responsible for the 12C's chassis. The result is a road
car that, at 2868 lbs (1301 kg), is the lightest in the 'core' sector of the
high-performance sports car market.
CRS Racing to Deliver on
Expectations of a New McLaren Race Car
The prevailing design concept
of the new McLaren MP4-12C road car is 'designed around the driver', and this is
just one example of McLaren's uncompromising commitment to offering a new
driving experience in road and race cars. CRS Racing Team Principal Andrew
Kirkaldy brings a decade of GT-level racing experience to McLaren GT and, as the
team's project manager, Kirkaldy was able to specify the cockpit and other
attributes of the 12C GT3 to ensure restrictions normally associated with GT3
race cars are removed from the McLaren.
Andrew Kirkaldy said: "When
Martin Whitmarsh first approached CRS Racing I was delighted that his main
objective for McLaren GT was to make the needs of customers and drivers an
absolute priority. That message transcends everything we are now undertaking.
The development programme will be rigorous to ensure reliability, the technical
specification of the 12C GT3 will surpass rival cars due to the links we have
with Formula 1 technology suppliers, build quality will reflect the high
standards introduced in the 12C road car, and the maximum performance will be
accessible to drivers of varied experience levels."
Performance Reflect McLaren Expectations
Just as with the 12C road
car, McLaren is working closely with specialist suppliers to deliver an
innovative and lightweight car. The 3.8-liter McLaren V8 twin turbo 'M838T'
engine supplied in the road car also features in the 12C GT3, but de-tuned to
493 hp (from 592 hp) in order to provide optimum power for this
performance-balanced race car.
The new MP4-12C GT3 will feature a unique
engine calibration, bespoke racing transmission developed in partnership with
Ricardo (who also developed the engine with McLaren) and a suspension
arrangement tuned specifically for racing.
Mark Williams said: "With the
tire grip balance moving forward on the GT3 racing tires it was necessary to
move the centre of gravity further forward and the only way to do this was to
reduce weight at the rear. A six-speed sequential shift gearbox by Ricardo was
selected because a race-specific transmission is 176 lbs (80 kg) lighter than
the Seamless Shift, seven-speed gearbox used in the road car. All the internal
components have been proven in other racing series. We then challenged Ricardo
to reduce weight further, meaning the unit has a bespoke casing design. That is
just one example of how we are continually looking to reduce weight and increase
McLaren GT has selected the TAG-400 Engine Control Unit for
the new 12C GT3. The TAG-400 is a compact, self-contained engine management
system and data logger for race engines designed and built by McLaren Electronic
Systems. The procurement of components from suppliers used to working with
partners in Formula 1 is another example of McLaren GT delivering on its
objective to build a GT3 car of unrivalled quality and reliability.
MP4-12C GT3: The Customer Commitment
With a rigorous development
program complete at the end of the 2011 GT3 season, McLaren GT will put in place
a robust support program to ensure all customers of the MP4-12C GT3 are able to
stay competitive throughout the 2012 season.
Martin Whitmarsh said: "We
speak regularly with prospective customers for the 12C GT3 now and these
relationships will only strengthen when teams take delivery of the 20 cars we
plan to build for next season.
"This is the first step into GT3 racing
for McLaren and we understand that our focus on quality must be consistent
through design, development, technology, finish and customer service. I am proud
of the relationships McLaren Racing has with sponsors and partners now and I
look forward to extending this to customers of the new MP4-12C GT3."
Initial demand for the first 20 McLaren MP4-12C GT3s is high, with interest
suggesting that McLaren and CRS Racing could sell the run five times over.
However, neither company has any desire to stretch the market and lead to a risk
of either oversupply or restrictions on customer service. Retained value in each
GT3 car is also of high priority to McLaren and CRS, and the first customers
when they take delivery.
Looking further ahead, around 20 more GT3s plan
to be built through 2013 and '14, but both McLaren and CRS remain open-minded
and optimistic about developing racing cars for other series' and markets.
Andrew Kirkaldy summed up the customer-oriented attitudes at both companies:
"We will treat our customers with respect. Having spent time now at McLaren's
amazing headquarters, and seen at close hand their aspiration to launch a new
type of sports car company, it is clear that they are, as ever, keen to do
things better. Whether this is through race support, parts supply, or even the
simple fact that the car's list price is its price - there are no hidden extras
- we want to make doing business with us a pleasure. If we can celebrate race
wins together in spring 2012 then even better!"
McLaren MP4-12C GT3 Race Car: Photo Gallery, Review (1/2) and Specifications