McLaren MP4-12C GT3 to debut in triplicate at Spa

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The moment of truth is upon McLaren this weekend. After rolling out its MP4-12C road car to positive reviews, the racing team turned automaker is turning itself back into a racing team with the new McLaren GT division and its MP4-12C GT3 – the first GT racer from the Woking, UK outfit since the celebrated F1 GTR.

After launching the new GT3, McLaren went back to the drawing board and came out with a series of updates based on their preliminary testing, and along the way, took 20 orders from a variety of independent racing teams for next year. That's all well and good, but what really matters is whether or not the car can perform. And we're about to find out this weekend when a trio of MP4-12C GT3s debut at the 24 Hours of Spa at the famous race track in Belgium.

Truth be told, this isn't the first time the MP4-12C GT3 – try saving that three times fast – has driven at Spa, having joined the British GT Championship there earlier this month. The solitary entry placed 12th in the first race and a solid 4th in the second, but those results apparently didn't count towards anything, as it was an exposition entry.

This time, however, McLaren GT will be back with three cars and ten drivers out to prove what the new car can do. One car will feature McLaren's own factory test driver Chris Goodwin, another with Andrew Kirkaldy, head of the CRS racing team that formed the outfit together with McLaren, and a third with VonRyan Racing, one of the factory's first customers. We'll be keeping an eye out to see how they do. Follow the jump for the full press blast and scope out the high-res image gallery for a closer look at the machinery.
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Jul 26, 2011

- Ten drivers to compete in three MP4-12C GT3 race cars at Spa-Francorchamps on 30-31 July
- 12C GT3 is the first race car converted from a McLaren road car to make a 24 hour race debut since the McLaren F1 GTR at Le Mans in 1995
- McLaren GT customer VonRyan Racing to manage third MP4-12C GT3 in Pro-Am Cup category

McLaren GT returns to the Spa-Francorchamps circuit this weekend for Total 24 Hours of Spa, following a successful race debut there in the British GT Championship early in July. The second race in the MP4-12C GT3's development programme will see ten experienced racing drivers pilot three cars in the 12C GT3's first ever 24 hour race.

The McLaren GT driver line-up for the Total 24 Hours of Spa includes CRS Racing Team Principal Andrew Kirkaldy and McLaren Automotive Chief Test driver Chris Goodwin. Both are Directors of the new McLaren GT company, which is led by McLaren Group CEO Martin Whitmarsh and includes McLaren Racing Head of Vehicle Engineering Mark Williams.

McLaren MP4-12C GT3 drivers for Total 24 Hours of Spa:

Pro-Cup category

Car 58 (McLaren GT):
Rob Bell - GB
Chris Goodwin - GB
Tim Mullen – GB

Car 59 (McLaren GT):
Andrew Kirkaldy - GB
Álvaro Parente - POR
Oliver Turvey - GB

Pro-Am Cup category

Car 60 (McLaren GT and VonRyan Racing):
Adam Christodoulou - GB
Glynn Geddie – GB
Phil Quaife - GB
Roger Wills – NZL

McLaren GT is using the 2011 race season to develop the 12C GT3, with 20 cars due for delivery to privateer teams for GT3 series racing in 2012. Chris Goodwin said: "I was very happy with the performance of the 12C GT3 in its debut race at Spa. We secured an amazing pole position at the first attempt and importantly for future customers; the 12C GT3 was reliable, fast and easy to drive.

"I'm delighted with the quality of the drivers we have enlisted as we take the 12C GT3 to its first 24 hour race. This level of endurance racing is a crucial test for the car technically, and we need the best possible team working with us to ensure we receive intelligent, objective feedback on the 12C GT3 driving experience. We will use this feedback as we continue to develop the car in readiness for customers to go racing next year.

"We will be taking the opportunity at Spa to work with a future McLaren GT customer, VonRyan Racing. We want to develop close relationships with all our customer race teams and this experience will be valuable in developing our customer support programme for 2012 and beyond."

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