- Rob Bell and Alexander Sims join Alvaro Parente in McLaren GT customer team driver line-up for 2012
- Three examples of the MP4-12C GT3 race car and one MP4-12C road car to be presented at Autosport International
- 25 MP4-12C GT3's to race in Europe in 2012
McLaren GT is building on its successful 2011 development program for the new MP4-12C GT3 by adding Britons Rob Bell and Alexander Sims to its driver line-up for 2012. Bell and Sims will join Portuguese racing driver Alvaro Parente at McLaren GT, with each driver available to teams racing the stunning new MP4-12C GT3 in 2012.
Rob Bell said: "I'm very excited to be joining McLaren GT and the opportunity to drive the new 12C GT3 in its first full season of racing. When I was invited to drive the car last year at Spa, I welcomed the chance to sample this new British racer. As I anticipated from a company which is synonymous with cutting edge technology and a dedication to success, the car lived up to its expectations. It delivered the speed and showed the performance potential necessary to win in the highly competitive environment of sportscar racing. I'm looking forward to contributing to further development of the car with a customer team when we take to the track at the start of this season."
Alexander Sims won the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award in 2008, and joins McLaren GT following a successful period in his career racing single seaters. Sims said: "I'm really looking forward to the forthcoming season with McLaren GT and the opportunity to race the MP4-12C GT3. I am delighted McLaren continue to support young drivers in their careers and I'm proud to join the likes of Rob and Alvaro on the driver program for 2012."
The 12C GT3 is a unique technical concept in sportscar racing. It features McLaren's one-piece molded carbon MonoCell chassis and technology normally reserved for Formula 1 race cars. The 12C GT3 has been specified and developed by a team comprising senior personnel from McLaren Racing, McLaren Automotive and successful GT car race team CRS Racing.
McLaren Racing Chief Vehicle Engineer Mark Williams has been at the forefront of technical development of the 12C GT3. Williams said: "Since the 12C GT3 development program began in March, we have entered endurance races all over Europe and more recently in Macau. We have undertaken independent 24 hour tests at some of Europe's most challenging circuits, and experienced some real highs and of course, had to deal with a number of challenges.
"The 12C GT3 qualified in pole position in the British GT Championship race in Spa in July. We returned to Spa for this season's 24 hour event and had a car complete the race at its first attempt. That is remarkable and was a good indication that core technologies were proving efficient and reliable in racing. More recently, Danny Watts secured third place in the Macau GT Cup. We're really proud of these achievements.
"In the last month the McLaren GT team of engineers, technicians and test drivers have been concentrating on refining the calibration of vehicle electronics during tests in Portugal, Spain and Germany. We are very close to the finished article now and I am looking forward to seeing our race cars at the front of the grid in 2012."
Road and race versions of the new 12C to star at Autosport International 2012
McLaren GT plans to present three versions of the stunning new 12C GT3 at this year's Autosport International event, which is held from 12-15 January at the NEC Birmingham, UK. One example will feature on the main Autosport Central Stage, another will feature in the Live Action Arena and a third will be displayed by MIS.
In addition, McLaren Automotive will be supplying a very special Production Prototype (PP) edition of the MP4-12C sports car to Pistonheads.com, for display throughout the event. Finished in signature color McLaren Orange, PP7 was the first ever 12C to be tested by the world's media. Following its debut test at the Portimao Circuit in January 2011, PP7 went on to record a remarkable 1:16.2 lap of Dunsfold Park at the hands of BBC Top Gear's 'The Stig', and subsequently achieved an impressive 7:28.0 lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife, this time with Sport Auto's Editor-in-Chief Horst von Saurma-Jeltsch at the wheel. A short film featuring PP7 in action at the Nordschleife may be viewed here: http://youtu.be/u7WGC1iXS_U
Andrew Kirkaldy, Project Manager at McLaren GT said: "I am excited that McLaren GT and McLaren Automotive will be presenting these fantastic new race and road cars at Autosport International. It is a great opportunity for event visitors to see first-hand how we have developed the 12C GT3 from the 12C road car, which is the essence of a race car.
"This is a great time for fans of McLaren in motorsport. I'm delighted McLaren GT has agreed a new contract with Alvaro, and equally pleased that Rob and Alexander have joined our team. These drivers are some of the best in GT racing and we are looking forward to all three of them working with our customer teams in 2012."
McLaren GT will deliver 25 cars to established GT race teams and private customers for racing in Europe in 2012. The new race car manufacturer will announce its full line-up of customer teams and contracted drivers prior to the first race of the 2012 race calendar.