McLaren GT officially launches the MP4-12C GT3
With the first customer MP4-12C road cars due to meet their lucky owners next month and an amazing 1,700 orders in the bank, you might be forgiven for thinking that McLaren Automotive would be resting on its laurels.
Well, you'd be wrong as today the Woking based manufacturer announced the next step in its plan to become a serious sports car manufacturer, with its "game-changing" racing version of the 12C - the GT3.
What's more impressive is that this car has gone from concept to reality in just 12 months, with most of the development work done in the Formula 1 simulator at the Technology Centre.
The result of all this simulation testing was that when the GT3 had its first FIA circuit test in March this year, the car was apparently perfectly set up and as McLaren Automotive's Chief Test Driver Chris Goodwin put it: "the aim is to win races, straight out of the box."
Asked why McLaren were going in to GT3 racing, McLaren Automotive MD Anthony Sheriff responded by saying: "we are McLaren and we race." So McLaren GT is the new company formed of McLaren Racing, McLaren Automotive and CRS racing which will produce the GT3.
For the £310,000 price, just 20 lucky buyers this year will get what McLaren are claiming will be the "cheapest car to race".
They back up this claim as the limited production run shouldn't stretch the market and keep retained value in each car, there will be a plentiful supply of parts for owners and the GT3's list price is its price - there are no hidden extras. McLaren GT are also planning to offer teams access to its Formula 1 simulator to hone their cars.
It may look like a 12C road car that has been on a course of steroids and share the same 75kg carbon "MonoCell", but as McLaren CEO, Martin Whitmarsh put it: "this is no parts bin special, it's a bespoke product".
In fact, because the 12C road car punches above its weight in performance terms, the GT3's version of the 3.8-litre McLaren V8 twin turbo has actually been de-tuned from 600PS to 500PS and features unique engine callibration and transmission developed with Ricardo.
2011 is the GT3's development year, but it will debut at this year's Blancpain Endurance Series race at Spain's Circuito de Navarra. This will be followed by Magny Cours in France then Silverstone in England and the team are also planning to enter the Total 24 Hours of Spa endurance race.
GT3 drivers will include CRS Racing Team Principle Andrew Kirkaldy, 2010 Vodaphone McLaren Mercedes test driver Oliver Turvey and Portuguese racing driver Alvaro Parente. Check out the promotional video from the event below.