Tag Archives: McLaren MP4-12C GT3

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Time for Blancpain

One of the great successes in recent endurance racing is the Blancpain Endurance Series. Stéphane Ratel has come up with a formula for GT3 cars that has a widespread appeal.  As the jewel in the crown, the Spa 24 Hours, approaches, it seems appropriate to get the thoughts and reflections from our Special Correspondent.


An impressive 57 GT cars started the Blancpain Silverstone race, a week after the British GT series managed a splendid 46 starters for their “500” event. GT racing is certainly popular, but despite these successes, I pose the question: are there now too many GT races? On the very day of the Blancpain race, the British Endurance Series (Britcar) could only muster 8 starters for their Rockingham round and the GT Cup race at Brands Hatch had just 11 runners. These are series that have mustered healthy grids in the past, so is it all being overdone? It would seem to suggest so and this is a shame. Inevitably a consequence is an over-crowded calendar, of course. Much as we like them, fewer races, please, so that enthusiasts can attend more.
An unexpected and most welcome feature of Silverstone’s Blancpain round was the last-minute entry of a works Aston Martin, their V12 Vantage GT3. The car had been brought from the Nϋrburgring 24 Hours, given a quick work-out at Snetterton to adapt to the Pirelli tyres and taken thence to Silverstone.

2013 Blancpain Endurance Series Silverstone

That this car dominated the event was especially appropriate in Aston Martin’s Centenary year and it mirrors the appearance 60 years ago almost to the week of a single works Aston Martin winning the sports car race at Charterhall when Reg Parnell gave the DB3S its début (no GTs then!). The addition of the GT3 car to the regular Blancpain entry was very desirable – it makes the race more memorable and it breaks up the “package” concept whereby the same cars are expected at every round, so worryingly reminiscent of the unhealthily rigid situation in Formula One. Motor racing needs plenty of “natural” variety, with cars turning up when they’re ready, not because some selfish rules (motivated by greed) dictate that everyone has to come every time. Well done, Aston Martin, for coming when it suited your needs!

2013 Blancpain Endurance Series Silverstone
The Audi R8 has gradually been coming good, winning the important 24 Hour races at the Nϋrburgring and Spa in 2012. They provided strong opposition at Silverstone and one was not surprised to find two of the very competitive Belgian WRT Team cars next home after the Aston. This is the Ortelli/Vanthoor/Rast second-placed example.
2013 Blancpain Endurance Series Silverstone
Also offering strong competition were the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3s. The British team JRM has been developing these cars in conjunction with NISMO in Japan and was rewarded with 4th place. The RJN no. 35 machine even led the winning Aston in the early laps, in the end it won the Pro-Am category, finishing 10th.

2013 Blancpain Endurance Series Silverstone
Disappointing were the McLarens – their best result was 7th courtesy of the Hexis team who had much success formerly with their Aston Martins. Like several others they elected to use the Woking cars for 2013 but these new cars seem to be off the pace at the moment. Above is the French ART Team MP4-12C three-wheeling out of Becketts.
2013 Blancpain Endurance Series Silverstone
One of the particular joys of endurance sports/GT races is the presence of the subsidiary classes, especially when they throw up unexpected winners. Such was the case with the Gentlemens’ Trophy, the GTR category. This Slovakian-entered Porsche 997 GT3 R of the ARC Bratislava team came out top of the thirteen starters:
2013 Blancpain Endurance Series Silverstone
Of the original 57 starters overall only 9 cars were unclassified, a most satisfactory reliability rate. Alas, one which failed was this Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 which understandably could not recover from an under-bonnet fire.

David Blumlein July 2013

The Greatest Show on Earth?

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

To have been in the UK during 2012 was to be in a place at a very special time. Dominating the August and September months were the London Olympics and Paralympics, never has a city and a nation embraced the Games with such fervor and passion, we surprised ourselves, we amazed others.

Perhaps the positive mood of the British public was set in the months before the Games when there were prolonged celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth ΙΙ. Over the length and breadth of Britain, events were held to commemorate 60 years of service to the Nation. Some of these were on a huge scale like those in London, some more intimate like street parties, but all with a common purpose, a collective thank you from the British people to our Monarch.

2012 Salon Prive

The Automotive aspect of our culture was naturally also part of these celebrations with an event that claimed the status of “Instant Classic” without any shadow of doubt. In early September Windsor Castle was the setting for a new show, the Windsor Concours of Elegance. A simple concept really, bring 60 of the world’s finest automobiles into a unique setting, Windsor Castle. Of course creating such an meeting is no simple matter, meticulous planning and years of sheer hard work went into the preparation, we should give thanks to those involved, they know who they are.

2012 Salon Prive

The setting, Windsor Castle, is one the Queen’s three Official Residences and is widely thought to be her favourite. Originally built by William the Conqueror after 1066, the palace is both the oldest castle in continuous occupation and largest inhabited castle in the world. The public can visit large parts of what is Her Majesty’s home and there is the added attraction of ceremonies like the Changing of the Guard. In fact Windsor Castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK, around a million visitors each year. Staging a Concours at such venue was a major coup for the organisers, almost beyond value and typically the event was to benefit a number of charities that deal with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

2012 Salon Prive

Almost beyond value could also be a description applied to the cars on display both within and without The Upper Ward and the Cambridge Gate and down The Long Walk. After clearing security, a standard procedure for any visitors to the Royal Palaces, it was time to make the trip up to the George ΙV Gateway.

2012 Salon Prive

There was a small display of Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover and McLaren cars both old and new, it set the tone for the weekend.

2012 Salon Prive

Woking’s finest were on parade including the debut of the latest model, the 12C Spider, stunning even in this august company.

2012 Salon Prive

The latest version of the GT3 racer was parked up.

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

A little further on was an old friend, the Bentley Speed 8 that TK, Dindo and Guido Smythe raced and triumphed in at Le Mans in 2003.

2012 Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance

Still showing signs of battle, it was a moment when the brand recaptured the spirit of the WO days and his legion of “Bentley Boys”. Five wins in seven years in the 20’s is an Audi or Porsche like performance record, perhaps it most appropriate that the revival has taken place as part of the Volkswagen family.

2012 Salon Prive

And on that note……………….

2012 Salon Prive

It was time to leave the display behind and head up to The Upper Ward………………

2012 Salon Prive

Where some truly sublime cars were awaiting – Embiricos Bentley 4¼ Litre Pourtout Coupé and Avions Voisin C-25 Berline Aérodyne anyone?

More tomorrow.

John Brooks, December 2012

The Future is Orange

A week ago the world, well a very small part of it including me, witnessed the next step in the expansion of McLaren Automotive. The venue was the Stowe Circuit at Silverstone, the small step/giant leap was the first public showing of the McLaren MP4-12C GT3.

Somehow the embargo that McLaren requested was kept and this morning they sent out their release. This is what it said.

The first McLaren MP4-12C GT3 to be built by McLaren GT – a new company that brings together the expertise of the McLaren Group and CRS Racing – has successfully undertaken its debut tests at the MIRA proving ground facility and Silverstone Circuit in England.  McLaren GT has also appointed a new test driver to its team, 26-year-old Portuguese racing driver Álvaro Parente.

The initial shakedown tests undertaken with the 12C GT3, whereby new components are calibrated and bespoke aerodynamic body structures are appraised for the first time, will be followed by comprehensive tests scheduled throughout March and April at a number of FIA* certified circuits across Europe. News on the development programme, full driver line-up and planned competition for the 12C GT3 will be confirmed after these tests are completed.

MP4-12C GT3 development to focus on quality and performance

McLaren GT Project Manager Andrew Kirkaldy and McLaren Automotive Chief Test Driver Chris Goodwin piloted the new 12C GT3 on its first outings. These real-world tests follow months of virtual testing in the McLaren Simulator at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, which is also used to develop the 12C production car and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes’ Formula 1 cars.

Andrew Kirkaldy said: “We have an extensive list of subjective and objective development targets set for the MP4-12C GT3.  In the first tests, the car is achieving excellent results in many areas including handling, powertrain and other aspects of dynamic performance.

“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 is around 100mm wider than the standard production car and 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.

“The McLaren GT team is working with Formula 1 technology suppliers, and several of the senior technical personnel involved in this project have vast experience in Formula 1. This is a unique advantage in developing a GT specification car.”

From 2012, McLaren Automotive and CRS Racing will supply and support a limited number of FIA GT3-compliant racing cars based on the McLaren 12C high-performance sports car for privateers.**

MP4-12C GT3: Technical specification outline

The 12C GT3 race car is based on a standard 12C. Developing the race car has required a team of engineers, technicians and test drivers from McLaren Group and CRS Racing to focus on several fundamental components.

The 12C GT3 is based on the McLaren carbon MonoCell chassis, which weighs just 75kg and is produced in a revolutionary one-piece mould. Race specification composite body panels and a fixed rear wing have been added to the GT3 car.

The same 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 as in the production car on which it is based will be used in the 12C GT3, tuned to race specification. A bespoke paddle-shift system operating an all-new Ricardo-designed gearbox developed specifically for racing will be fitted. This system eschews the 7-speed SSG dual-clutch Graziano transmission supplied in the standard 12C.

New electrical architecture is being supplied by McLaren Electronic Systems Limited, including electronic dash and data technologies. Bosch Motorsport will supply a new ABS system for the 12C GT3.  A new aerodynamics package has been developed by McLaren Racing in compliance with GT3 regulations, incorporating a new front splitter, door blade, rear wing, diffuser and louvres in the front fenders.

The new GT3 car will feature motorsport-specific braking and suspension components. These include bespoke callipers by Akebono, Official Supplier to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.  Due to regulations imposed by racing authorities, the 12C GT3 will not feature the road-going 12C’s ProActive Chassis Control System; negating the requirement for an anti-roll bar. Instead, the 12C GT3 will use a configuration comprising race-specific roll bars and dampers.

McLaren Automotive Chief Test Driver Chris Goodwin said: “Those who have seen the new MP4-12C production car won’t be surprised to learn that immense attention to detail has been applied in developing the GT3 version. Quality is a watchword. We know that our potential customers will expect McLaren GT to deliver a competitive car right out of the box and, starting now with a programme covering aerodynamics development and durability testing, we are determined to do just that.

“The McLaren GT team is committed to achieving unprecedented levels of performance, also guaranteeing the levels of quality, reliability and durability with which we expect to delight future race teams entering competitions with the 12C GT3.”

 

As the car rolled out of the transporter I felt I was being teleported back to Jerez 1995 when the F1 GTR first raced in the BPR Series.

The Blancpain Endurance Series just shifted up another gear.

John Brooks, March 2011