McLaren has four reasons to celebrate this past weekend. One of them has something to do with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 team while the other three involves the McLaren GT customer teams. Lewis Hamilton, 2008 Formula 1 World Champion, won the 2012 Italian Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
Prior to its Italian win, McLaren already registered three great first place finishes in the United Kingdom, France and Spain in GT championships. French-based ART Grand Prix team, McLaren a customer team, showed what they got at the Circuito de Navarra in Spain. Driving a McLaren MP4-12C GT3, the pair of Grégoire Demoustier and Ulric Amado managed to secure pole position in the FFSA French GT championship for the weekend’s Qualifying Race. The duo went on to grab the pole position despite having gotten a 15-second penalty.
McLaren is also celebrating the victory of the German/Dutch team Lapidus Racing at the 15th running of the 24H Barcelona held at the Spanish Circuit de Catalunya. Lapidus Racing, driving a McLaren MP4-12C GT3, started fifth on the grid, but its strong start allowed it to build a commanding lead to the night. The team’s 12C GT3, driven by British racers Adam Christodoulou, Tim Mullen and Phil Quaife alongside team owner Klaas Hummel, however, made an unscheduled stop shortly after half-distance.
The situation allowed two other teams to overtake Lapidus Racing, dropping them to third. After getting back on track, the team managed to catch up to the leaders and regained the lead in the early hours of the morning. With consistent lap times, the team built a sizeable lead over their rivals. As the clock breached the 24-hour barrier, Lapidus Racing’s 12C GT3 crossed the line for the win after completing 640 laps, which is equivalent to around 3,000 kilometres.
As we all know, McLaren tapped some specialist suppliers to work on the 12C road car. Now, McLaren is once again closely collaborating with specialist suppliers to work on an innovative and lightweight car – the new McLaren MP4-12C GT3.
The same 3.8-liter McLaren V8 twin turbo ‘M838T’ engine that once supplied power to the 12C road car is also featured in the 12C GT3 except that has been de-tuned from 600 PS to 500 PS – a necessary step so that this performance-balanced race car is well-provided with optimum power. The 12C GT3 features a unique engine calibration and a suspension arrangement tuned specifically for racing. McLaren teamed up with Ricardo to develop not only the 12C GT3’s engine but also its bespoke racing transmission.
McLaren Head of Vehicle Engineering Mark Williams explained that the need to reduce the weight at the rear of the 12C GT3 is due to the fact that the center of gravity had to be moved further forward to adjust the tyre grip balance on the GT3 racing tyres.
He even explains why Ricardo selected a six-speed sequential shift gearbox. It’s because a race-specific transmission, as that used in the race car, is much lighter by 80 kg compared to that of the road car’s Seamless Shift, seven-speed gearbox. He assures everyone that all these internal components have been tried and tested in other racing series. The bespoke casing design of the 12C GT3 is actually a weight-reduction challenge posed by McLaren for Ricardo; and part of McLaren’s continuous effort to reduce weight while increasing efficiency.
The new 12C GT3 also features the TAG-400 Engine Control Unit, a compact, self-contained engine management system and data logger specifically for McLaren Electronic Systems’ race engines. Since McLaren is serious with its goal of building “a GT3 car of unrivalled quality and reliability”, it has really helped a lot that they are working with suppliers (who have worked with Formula 1 partners) for the procurement of components.