Now, McLaren is back in the sportscar racing game with the new MP4-12C GT3. Based on the MP4-12C road car, the GT3 racing version took only a year to develop, and McLaren GT has delivered 25 examples of its racing car to independent racing teams around the world. Included in the purchase price are test sessions organized by McLaren and access to the team's advanced driving simulator and deep expertise in all things motorsport.
The cars are set to compete in the Blancpain Endurance Series (where the MP4-12C also serves as safety car), the VLN series at the Nürburgring, German'y ADAC GT Masters, the International GT Open and the FIA GT1 World Championship. The first of these are set to take place in Germany this weekend at the Nordschleife and Oschersleben, where the MP4-12C will be making its parallel race debuts. Can't wait that long? We've got two high-quality video clips of the car undergoing testing for your viewing pleasure (together with the full press release) after the jump and a fresh crop of high-resolution images added to the gallery above.
- 25 new MP4-12C GT3 cars to race across Europe and in FIA GT1 World Championship in 2012
- Full list of McLaren GT customer teams and race series entries now confirmed
- McLaren MP4-12C sports car selected as safety car for FIA GT1 World Championship race at Nogaro on 8-9 April
- High quality short films featuring new 12C GT3 cars on track, and McLaren GT 'works' drivers testing the 12C sports car available to view and share at:
> Blancpain test video - http://youtu.be/ggO2EM1Cio0
> GT drivers test 12C - http://youtu.be/EBqy6YCZN2s
The new McLaren MP4-12C GT3 is set for its competitive race debut in 2012, following an intensive development programme in 2011. Prototype versions of the 12C covered more than 35,000 miles on real world and simulated test tracks last year as McLaren GT worked towards the delivery of an incredibly efficient, reliable and rewarding to drive race car in 2012. The competitive race season begins for new McLaren GT customer teams in Germany on 31 March, with the opening rounds of the VLN and ADAC GT Masters championships at the Nürburgring Nordschliefe and Oschersleben respectively.
The MP4-12C sports car, on which the GT3 racer is based, will also make its debut as a safety car in the FIA GT1 World Championship race at the Nogaro circuit in France on 8-9 April.
Blancpain Endurance Series entry list swells as ten McLaren MP4-12C GT3s line up in 2012
Fans of the Blancpain Endurance Series can look forward to seeing ten 12C GT3s line up on the grid for the season opener in Monza next month, after completing the competition's official first test last week at Paul Ricard HTTT. The McLaren race cars will wear the unique liveries of ART, ASM, Boutsen Energy, Gulf Racing, Molitor Racing, United Autosports and Von Ryan Racing. The JAS team will also take part in selected rounds of the championship. Footage of the new 12C GT3s at the test event in southern France can be seen at www.youtube.com/mclarenautomotivetv.
Gemballa Racing and Doerr Motorsport will compete in the 12C GT3 in the German VLN series, which includes the famous 24 Hour Nürburgring endurance race in May.
Molitor Racing and Gemballa Racing will run in ADAC GT Masters, and French FIA GT1 Champions Hexis Racing will line up on the grid of the FIA GT1 World Championship. Series Champions Apex Motorsport will enter a new 12C GT3 in selected rounds of this year's British GT championship, while the Lapidus Racing team will contest the International GT Open series, and also compete in forthcoming 24-hour races at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and Circuit de Catalunya in Spain.
Teams racing the 12C GT3 in 2012 have enlisted the services of highly successful racing drivers for the 2012 season. Former Formula 1 drivers Mark Blundell and David Brabham (also a Le Mans 24hr winning driver) will race for United Autosports and 2011 Formula 2 competitor Jack Clarke will drive for Boutsen Energy. Rob Bell, Alvaro Parente and Alexander Sims, who recently joined the McLaren GT driver line-up for 2012, will be placed with customer teams, while McLaren Automotive Chief Test Driver Chris Goodwin will also contest selected races in a 12C GT3 throughout the season.
Andrew Kirkaldy, Project Manager for McLaren GT said: "I'm excited that we are so close to seeing the 12C GT3 in its first full race season. The feedback I have received from customers that have already taken delivery of the car is very positive.
"The 2011 development programme was challenging, but had many highlights. We started with a pole position in qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps in the British GT Championship, and ended the race season with a third place finish in Macau.
"In one year, McLaren GT has taken the 12C GT3 from concept to race readiness. We will learn more about the car in the early part of the season - and expectations will naturally be high of a car full of Formula 1 technology - but our objective is to makes the 12C GT3 as much a pleasure to own and run as it is race."
Customer teams will be supported by official McLaren GT engineers throughout the 2012 season, and will also have access to a full range of spare parts at each race. Away from the track, the teams will be offered the use of McLaren's simulator, which was used by McLaren Automotive to specify the groundbreaking 12C road car, and by McLaren Racing to develop all of its successful recent Formula 1 cars.
New McLaren GT drivers track test the MP4-12C road car
McLaren GT recently announced its official 2012 driver line-up with the acquisition of Rob Bell, Alexander Sims and Alvaro Parente. As part of an induction programme to McLaren GT and McLaren Automotive, the top trio of GT racing drivers were given the opportunity to get behind the wheel of brand new MP4-12C sports cars at the circuit 'home' of McLaren Automotive, Dunsfold Park. The challenging 'figure-of-eight' circuit is also known worldwide for being the BBC Top Gear test track.
The 12C GT3 shares the same V8 twin turbo engine and carbon 'MonoCell' chassis as its road car sibling, and its aerodynamic package was developed by McLaren GT in partnership with specialist engineers and designers at McLaren Automotive.
Rob Bell said: "Driving the 12C on track was a special opportunity and one that helped us learn a lot about the way McLaren develops its cars. I had a huge grin on my face because unlike any other sports car I have driven, it lacks nothing on track. It is easy to drive very fast and very safely. I want to find the quickest way around a circuit in any car I drive, and the value of technology like Brake Steer and the 12C's Airbrake is absolutely clear to me. I actually think I might have been quicker than 'The Stig' on the day..."
Rob, Alvaro and Alexander can be seen driving the 12C on the limit in a new short film at McLaren Automotive's official You Tube channel: www.youtube.com/mclarenautomotivetv.