Fifteen years since the McLaren F1 GTR famously won the world-famous 24 Heures du Mans (Le Mans) on its debut, and 12 years since six 'Longtails' last raced at Le Mans, McLaren and CRS Racing, have begun development work aimed at turning the McLaren MP4-12C road car into a race-winning GT3 sports car. As part of the development programme, McLaren and CRS Racing will compete at a limited number of European GT races in 2011.
CRS Racing will build, sell and support the 12C GT3 cars in close collaboration with McLaren. The Leicestershire-based racing team has a strong pedigree in GT racing in the Le Mans Series, the FIA GT Championship, the International GT Open and the British GT Championship. CRS also runs two successful single-seater teams: in the Formula Renault UK Championship and as Atech CRS in the GP3 Series.
Martin Whitmarsh, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Team Principal said: “Racing is in our blood – it was natural to develop a GT3 car alongside the 12C road car. We have a legendary history in global motorsport, including GT racing, and we aim to maintain that reputation with this GT3 programme, and any future sports car projects that may evolve.
“The 12C's architecture and design was always aimed at high-performance and ease of maintenance – two key criteria for potential customers. Combine that with the vast amount of racing experience in our automotive team, and CRS Racing's specialist development experience, and the 12C GT3 should be an exciting proposition for the top teams planning to race in GT3 from 2012.”
Andrew Kirkaldy, Team Principal, CRS Racing said: “It is a rare opportunity to work with a company like McLaren and we are proud to be involved. Together, we aim to produce the highest quality GT car on the grid. The level of engineering experience at McLaren is unparalleled and this will be reflected in the 12C GT3. One of the most important aspects of this programme will be customer service and for that reason we will be building a limited number of cars at a competitive price. The result will be an incredible GT car with manageable running costs and good residual value that will provide its owner with an unrivalled experience.”
With the 12C's revolutionary lightweight one-piece moulded carbon chassis (the 'MonoCell'), its high levels of downforce and aerodynamic performance, and its focus on form and function, the 12C should prove to be a great platform on which to develop a racing car, as well as visually setting pulses racing at European race tracks.
Initial plans are for a limited run of 12Cs developed for the 2012 European FIA GT3 Series, but, as with McLaren Automotive's road car business, conservative growth and expansion will be considered.