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Monday, May 23, 2011

McLaren Developing its MP4-12C GT3 to Dominate FIA GT—and Customer Service?

May 4, 2011 at 3:59pm by Alexander Stoklosa

McLaren Racing, McLaren Automotive, and CRS Racing have joined forces under the banner “McLaren GT” to bring FIA GT racers the MP4-12C GT3 racecar. The GT3 is currently enduring a development program designed to put the race car in customers’ hands for 2012. The vehicle has big shoes to fill, being the first McLaren racer provided for the GT series since the F1 GTR. But McLaren isn’t just benchmarking track success for its new baby—the company is also going to focus on customer service. Seriously.

McLaren has gone to great lengths to make the customer’s racing experience as trouble-free as possible, working hard to ensure a reliable, affordable (among the private-jet set), and driver-oriented race car with generous parts support. That McLaren seemed to target production-spec levels of drivability and durability shows in its extensive computer simulation of the car’s track manners and aerodynamics before it ever touched tire to track. Of course, once the laptops were closed McLaren took to caning its racer around various tracks in Europe, keeping close tabs on how it held up to the abuse.

The result is surprisingly close to the MP4 road car. Both the carbon-fiber chassis tub and the 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine are carryover, although the engine has actually been detuned by almost 100 hp for the racer to maintain a balanced performance envelope. Now making “only” around 500 hp, the V-8 is bolted to a six-speed sequential gearbox co-developed with Ricardo. The exhaust has most certainly been altered—watch the video below to see the GT3 overtake the road car, drowning it out completely with a maniacal shriek layered over a rippling baritone rumble—and is much more free-flowing. The race car’s aero package received a lot of work—and help from McLaren’s F1 engineers—resulting in a new carbon-fiber splitter, door blades (extractor vents), rear wing and diffuser, and louvers on the crests of each front fender. More F1 bits surface inside the GT3, where a Formula 1 steering wheel transmits driver commands and the engine is managed by a racing-spec control unit sourced from McLaren Electronic Systems.

McLaren is targeting a run of 20 cars for the 2012 season, and is using its development program to gain feedback from prospective customers to help their mission to deliver a reliable and successful racecar. McLaren and CRS Racing plan to build 20 more cars through 2013 and 2014, and are banking on their fresh outlook for customer service as being a major selling point next to the GT3’s performance.

Tags: FIA GT series, GT racing, McLaren MP4-12C, McLaren MP4-12C GT3 |

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