McLaren MP4-12C GT3 (2011) track testing begins

Published: 11 March 2011

McLaren has begun testing its latest track weapon, the MP4-12C GT3 ahead of the 2012 FIA GT3 season. 

How different is the MP4-12C GT3 from the roadgoing edition?

The MP4-12C GT3 is based on the standard machine but modified for FIA GT racing by McLaren GT – a joint venture between McLaren Automotive and CRS Racing, a UK-based team currently competing in FIA GT with Ferrari F430s. 

Externally you’ll notice the race-spec fixed rear wing, undertray diffuser, front splitter, louvres and vents. Underneath there’s a new suspension system, ditching the road car’s linked suspension for FIA-compliant conventional dampers and anti-roll bars. Akebono is supplying race-specific brake components, and Bosch Motorsport has installed its ABS system. The car sits 100mm wider on its new suspension and has suitably flared bodywork as a result. 

It’s still the McLaren’s bespoke 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, tuned for racing. But out goes the road car’s Graziano seven-speed dual-clutch transmission for a new racing gearbox developed by Ricardo. 

Inside you’ll be greeted with the usual safety devices for the driver, a button-and-display-laden racing wheel, and an electronic dashboard relaying all relevant performance data. 

MP4-12C GT3: from testing to racing

Although this is the first we’ve seen of the race car on track, McLaren has been testing the vehicle extensively in computer simulation at the McLaren HQ in Woking.

McLaren Automotive’s chief test driver Chris Goodwin and McLaren GT project manager Andrew Kirkaldy have been joined in test driving duties by 26-year-old Portuguese racing driver Alvaro Parente, a former GP2 and Spanish GT series competitor.

First shakedown tests at Silverstone and the MIRA proving ground in the UK have been successfully completed and a schedule of tests through March and April 2011 are planned. Once the test programme is complete, McLaren GT will announce its race plans and full driver line-up. 

So far the new team seem happy with their new machine. Project manager Kirkaldy had this to say: ‘The 12C’s carbon chassis and aerodynamic efficiency mean we started with a lightweight, dynamically optimised sports car. Those characteristics are fundamental to any race car. The car… features a new suspension system which we have tested in the McLaren simulator. Having now experienced this new set-up in the 12C GT3 car, I’m delighted with the progress we are making.’