This is the Mercedes SLS AMG GT3, a racing version of Merc's incredible Gullwing supercar. Unveiled today at the 2010 New York auto show, it'll start racing in 2011.
The FIA GT3 regulations mean this Mercedes SLS AMG is pretty standard, right?
Correct – the FIA’s GT3 races are designed for ‘near-series’ cars so costs are kept low, and there’s a burgeoning field with everything from R8s and 911s to BMW’s new Z4 racer.
The SLS GT3 uses the same naturally aspirated, dry-sumped 6.2-litre V8 as its road-going SLS AMG counterpart, and FIA-spec air intake restrictors will peg power back to around 600bhp. The exact power output, and the kerbweight, will be confirmed later in 2010 in line with the FIA’s ‘Balance of Performance’ principle for the GT3 series. The road car’s seven-speed dual-clutch ‘box has been junked though, and replaced by a six-speed sequential paddleshift transmission that drives the rear wheels. Together with the lower kerbweight Mercedes claims the GT3 racer will hit 62mph in under 3.8 seconds and top 180mph (depending on the final drive ratio, of course).
The biggest changes to the SLS have been focussed on the aerodynamic performance. There’s a huge front splitter, vented bonnet, 50mm wider front and rear bodywork, intakes ahead of the rear wheelarches to help cool the brakes, a smooth underbody, a big diffuser and an oversized (and adjustable) rear wing. The double wishbone suspension remains, but the springs, shocks, ride height and camber are all adjustable.
The obligatory cage helps reinforce the aluminium spaceframe, and there’s a bucket seat complete with HANS system and six-point harness inside, too.
The SLS road car was the first vehicle that AMG ever developed in-house, and now it has produced the GT3 version with HWA, the same team that runs Merc’s DTM racers. 'Thanks to uncompromising lightweight construction and superior handling dynamics, the SLS AMG provides an outstanding basis for a highly competitive racing car,' says AMG’s chairman Volker Mornhinweg. 'This exciting GT3 version is our response to strong customer demand for a car designed for these attractive motor sports series.'
Sales of customer SLS GT3s will start this autumn, homologation will follow at the start of 2011, and the first cars will start their competitive races next year too.
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