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Review (2/2)

New McLaren MP4-12C GT3 Aiming to Put Customers at the Front of the Grid

Source: McLaren | Published: Fri Jul 01, 2011

(continued from the previous page)

The McLaren MP4-12C: The Essence of a Race Car

Racing 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."

Specification and 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 efficiency."

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

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