Two McLaren MP4-12C GT3 cars successfully completed the 2012 Total 24 Hours of Spa, braving the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit on harsh weather conditions. McLaren GT customer teams competing at the main event of the Blancpain Endurance Series fielded nine examples of the MP4-12C GT3, all of which performed well until severe conditions forced seven units to retire before completing the event.
The #88 MP4-12C GT3, run by Von Ryan Racing and driven by Alvaro Parente, Rob Barff, Roger Wills and Chris Goodwin, was P9 overall while finishing an impressive fourth in the Pro-Am class. The #66 blue-and-black MP4-12C GT3, also run by Von Ryan Racing but driven by Julian Draper, Matt Draper, Stephen Jelley and Stef Dusseldorp finished the race after 24 hours at P30 place overall.
Each of the nine participating MP4-12C GT3s showed a solid performance throughout the qualifying sessions, with five cars in the top 20 for the start of the race. The #88 car was the top-qualifying McLaren, claiming pole position in the Pro-Am class, and 3rd overall. The opening stint was featured by the #9 Gulf Racing UK car driven by McLaren ‘works’ driver Rob Bell.
Despite a good pace in the free practice sessions, the #9 car ended up in P51 after the qualifying phase. Bell, however, managed to secure the 7th position by the end of his double stint. The Belgian Boutsen-Ginion Racing team wowed the home crowd with two cars, with its #5 orange-and-black MP4-12C GT3 becoming the front-running McLaren, leading the Pro-Am class, and in P5 overall.
McLaren GT has taken the wraps off the new McLaren MP4-12C GT3 race car as well as talked about its plans for a 2011 development program. McLaren GT is a race car maker that fuses the expertise of McLaren Automotive, McLaren Racing and CRS Racing,
The McLaren MP4-12C GT3 will be McLaren’s first car created for competing in the FIA GT series since 1997, when the carmaker finished building the McLaren F1 GTR. The new 12C GT3 started off from the new MP4-12C sports car. To transform the MP4-12C into the new 12C GT3, it has to be homologated into racing specs, and this work was achieved thanks to the expertise and efforts of a team of engineers, designers and test drivers – all with related experience in Formula 1 and GT racing.
McLaren Group chief executive Martin Whitmarsh remarked that since the company has always been involved in racing it was only natural to transform the MP4-12C road car into a GT3 car that is not only reliable and efficient but is also easy to drive. Whitmarsh noted that since race cars competing in the FIA GT series have their performance balanced by race rules, McLaren’s objective was to pick a technical spec that would ensure that any driver could easily access the performance limit of the 12C GT3.
To make sure that the design and development program for the 12C GT3 is as close as possible to that of McLaren Racing for a Formula 1 car, McLaren partnered with the CRS Racing team, which boasts of an outstanding record in racing GT3 cars. Whitmarsh added that because of its experience, CRS Racing understands the requirements of success in the field of FIA GT racing.