Martin Whitmarsh, chief executive officer of McLaren Group, is set to disclose the details for the company’s MP4-12C GT3 race car at a press conference in the McLaren Technology Centre (MTC) in Woking, England on May 4, 2011. By then, the public will know the technical specification, development programme, driver line-up and race plans for the race car.
The 12C GT3 will undergo development and testing programme of strict standards over the 2011 race season before the 20 units are shipped to privateer teams for racing in 2012.
The concept phase of the 12C GT3 began in 2010 at the McLaren simulator, which has played an essential role in defining the technical specification and engineering requirements of the race car. Recently, the 12C GT3 was tested at FIA-certified circuits and it was found that it already delivers race-ready performance.
After a test programme at Circuito de Navarra in Spain, McLaren GT Programme Director Mark Vinnels stated that the 12C GT3’s power, weight and downforce targets were defined using the simulator. “The McLaren simulator is just one example of how we are preparing to deliver a GT3 car that is the most driveable, reliable and efficient car on the grid,” he added.
On March 4, the eve of the 30th year of the Silverstone début of the McLaren MP4/1, the first carbon-fibre race car ever, the 12C GT3, also had its UK circuit introduction.
A week after that, the new race car was brought to Spain to the Circuito de Navarra to run its initial FIA circuit test and shake down sessions. Prior to this, the 12C GT3 was already subjected to a series of simulation tests of international circuits such as Paul Ricard, Circuit de Catalunya and Silverstone. From these, McLaren was able to optimise the calibration of the engine, steering system, transmission, suspension, weight ratios and other settings.
McLaren Racing’s Head of Vehicle Engineering Mark Williams said that the 12C GT3 started out in a simulator where engineers thoroughly investigated how to come up with the right power, weight and downforce metrics. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) was used to configure the car’s aerodynamic profile.
Testing was carried out with the McLaren Simulator’s different map tracks. The McLaren Automotive simulation team was able to come up with the aspired vehicular set-up and account for the car’s drivability. This process of using cutting edge simulator technology to define the car’s technical settings and aerodynamic package before any actual track tests has never been done for any other GT3 car.
After the shakedown and testing sessions in Spain, Andrew Kirkaldy, Team Principal at CRS Racing and McLaren GT Project Manager, said that the car’s performance validated the results of their simulator-based development of its set-up. The simulation and real world 12C GT3 “felt near-identical.”
The 12C GT3 features body panels with optimal aerodynamic qualities that significantly enhance the car’s racing potential. The FE design analysis and McLaren’s singular knowledge and experience with carbon fibre enable this high level of quality.
McLaren’s new full carbon-fibre aerodynamics package for the 12C GT3 complies with all GT3 regulations. The package includes a redesigned front spoiler, diffuser, front fender louvres, door blade and rear wing.
Interested clients are able to acquire a custom-built 12C GT3 because McLaren GT and McLaren Applied Technologies have offered up the use of McLaren Simulator bespoke programmes for this purpose. Chris Goodwin said that having the simulator puts McLaren Racing and McLaren Automotive clearly ahead in both Formula 1 car development and production sports car development, respectively.
McLaren confidently maintained that the 12C GT3 racing teams hold an advantage over their rivals as long as the bespoke McLaren simulation programme can be relied upon. Detailed specifications of the programme for 12C GT3 clients and those interested in other McLaren cars were later revealed.