McLaren’s new endurance race car, the MP4-12C GT3 is less heavy, further from the sky, nimbler, and has less power than the road-going MP4-12C. Which of these is not like the others…
The recipe is ingrained in the cerebral cortex of every car enthusiast. To make a car faster, weight is reduced, stickier tires are fitted, suspension is lowered and stiffened, and horsepower is increased. McLaren, with the help of CRS Racing, has followed this recipe to the letter with their new MP4-12C GT3. Well, almost.
Horsepower is actually down from 600 in the street car to 500 in the GT3. This, according to Woking, is “in order to provide optimum power for this performance-balanced race car.” Fine, but not exactly headline-grabbing stuff.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren Group CEO, summed the new programme up neatly: “McLaren has racing in its blood and it was a natural step to take our MP4-12C road car and turn it into the most reliable, efficient and easy to drive GT3 car. Every car on the grid will have its performance balanced by race rules, meaning our objective must be to select a technical specification that ensures any driver is able to access the 12C GT3’s performance limit with ease.”
Ahh, “efficient”. It’s the name of the game in endurance racing, which is why the Porsche 911 with its flat-six and light weight has been skewering the competition in the GT3 class since Steve McQueen was alive. Macca could change that overnight.
Whitmarsh’s reference to “racing in [McLaren's] blood” is clearly in reference to McLaren’s 1995 overall win at Le Mans, where it debuted the F1 GTR. The McLaren F1 GTR was the company’s last racing effort based on a one of its own street cars.
Between that history and their Formula 1 expertise, you might say that expectations are high.