So, McLaren Automotive, the firm's road car division - distinct from the racing bit - is launching a new racing car. And while that might sound a bit arse about face, the development of the new 7203S GT3 competition model by the Automotive half of the building actually makes perfect sense. Here’s a clue as to why: “ka-ching”.
You see, the 650S GT3 successor, due to make its debut in 2019, will not be operated directly by McLaren but sold to customer teams and wealthy clients throughout the world who are prepared to pay large sums of money not just to purchase the car - which starts at £440,000 - but also to maintain and support it throughout its racing life. Aside from providing McLaren with great international exposure, it opens a constant revenue stream – because, you know, motorsport is ruddy expensive.
Conforming to FIA GT3 regulations means the 720S racer will be eligible to compete in GT championships in a variety of locations, including illustrious 24-hour endurance events like the ones at Spa and the Nurburgring. McLaren is currently midway through an extensive testing programme to ensure its 720S GT3 is ready for these types of tough races, and so far, its prototypes have covered a combined 30,000km (18641 miles) on tracks both sides of the Atlantic - plenty of time to iron out creases and eliminate gremlins.
The job’s far from done, however, because this isn’t just some stripped-out 720S with a new decal kit – no, the 720S GT3 is 90% new. It shares a MonoCell II carbon fibre structure and twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine with its road legal counterpar, but the rest is pure motorsport.
The GT3 model uses a six-speed sequential gearbox and an externally adjustable limited slip differential, for example, and the driveshafts and wheel hubs are different to enable faster change times. Then there are tougher brakes with enhanced cooling capabilities, new suspension using coilover springs and four-way adjustable dampers, as well as a built-in air-jacking system. Plus, new electronics allow the driver to adjust traction control and ABS assistance, and there’s an all-new aerodynamic pack that demonstrates how, when it comes to downforce, bigger is better. Oh, and there are Pirelli racing slicks or wets. So yeah, this is no ramped-up road car.
It joins the 570S GT4 among the division’s customer racing products, and can already point to significant success in GT racing - despite being comparatively new to the scene (compared with the likes of Ferrari and Porsche, at any rate). The 720S GT3’s predecessor, the 650S GT3, has a win at the Bathurst 12 Hours and Blancpain Endurance Series titles to its name, while 570S GT4s were used to win eight titles and 50 races across the world in 2017.