McLaren MP4-12C GT3 on-track video

 

McLaren Automotive claims that the new  Mp4-12C is not meant as a direct replacement for the legendary F1 but that doesn’t mean it won’t be following in its forebear’s footsteps which means that it will be hitting the racetrack to earn its pedigree. With the road going version of the world’s latest supercar now ready for consumption, the competition version hit the pavement at the Silverstone racetrack and the MIRA proving ground in Nuneaton, England.

Unlike the F1 GTR that dove right into the top-level GT1 class that was in place in 1995 when it took overall victory at Le Mans in its first outing, the new car is being prepared to FIA GT3 rules.  That puts in the same class with other factory built race cars like the Audi R8 LMS, Mercedes AMG SLS GT3, BMW Z4 GT3 and of course the Porsche 911 GT3R.

The F1 GTR’s 6.0-liter BMW-built V12 engine produced about 600 horsepower, a little less than the road car. In street-legal form, the Mp4-12C’s twin-turbo 3.8-liter V8 also produces 600 hp.  However, the mandatory air-intake restrictors will likely limit the GT3-spec model to somewhere between 400 and 450 hp.  The standard seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is swapped out for a Ricardo designed and built racing unit actuated by a bespoke paddle shift mechanism.

The road car’s single-piece carbon fiber tub is retained as is the basic suspension system. The ProActive Chassis control system that uses a hydraulic interconnect system to manage body roll is replaced by a more conventional anti-roll-bar configuration while a custom Akebono braking system handles deceleration duties.

The basic appearance of the production 12C is carried over with the usual modifications to enhance aerodynamic downforce and enclose the larger racing rubber. A front splitter, extended wheel arches and vertical blades behind the front wheels are complemented by fender-top vents, a wing and rear diffuser.

CRS Racing is working with the factory engineers to test and develop the GT3 car and Álvaro Parente has been named as the first test driver. Teams interested in acquiring and racing the McLaren GT3 can sign up at www.mclarengt.com. No pricing has been announced but it certainly won’t come cheap with price tag that will surely top $500,000.  Now if only the American Le Mans Series would add a full GT3 class so we could see these amazing machines run in North America.

 

 

Aston Martin AMR-One Le Mans Prototype flips its lid

 

Aston Martin’s new 2011 Le Mans Prototype flips the script on its predecessor. The LMP1 car fielded by Aston Martin Racing for the last two years was a modified Lola coupe powered by a competition version of the 6.0-liter V12 that propels most Aston road cars. Despite being the fastest non-diesel P1 of the past two seasons, it couldn’t compete with the Audi R15 and Peugeot 908.

While Audi has switched to a closed cockpit for its new R18, the AMR-One does away with its roof to make driver changes quicker. The aerodynamic hit is balanced by speed in the pits. The carbon-fiber chassis of the AMR-One has been developed in-house by Aston Martin rather than use off-the-shelf Lola parts. Like the new Audi and Peugeot racers, Aston Martin has opted for 18-inch wheels all around which is expected to provide better balance. Despite the rear-mid-engine layout and the now-mandatory shark fin on the back, the flat sides of the AMR-One mean that it most closely resembles the front-engine Panoz LMP1 Roadster of 1999.

2011 P1 rules  limit non-diesel normally aspirated engines to 3.4-liters  and boosted engines to 2.0-liters.  Aston engineers have created a brand-new 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-six-cylinder that cranks out an estimated 540 horsepower. Power is fed to the rear wheels via an Xtrac six-speed semi-automatic gearbox with a pneumatic shift mechanism.

Aston Martin is planning to build six examples of the AMR-One but they won’t be ready to race at the ALMS/Intercontinental Le Mans Cup season opener at Sebring this month. Aston hasn’t said if they will run a Lola at Sebring although the Cytosport team will be campaigning one of the Lolas in Florida and throughout the rest of the year. Aston does plan to run a car in the rest of the ILMC races and two cars at Le Mans in June.

Corvette Racing Video Series Season 2: Episode 1 Paddle Shift

The American Le Mans Series opens its 2011 season at Sebring in a few weeks, and the Corvette Racing Video Series returns as well. The first episode is out, and takes a look at the biggest change to the C6.R for 2011. The ALMS has made numerous changes to the technical regulations this year including the approval of paddle shifters for GT cars, and the Corvettes will be among the cars running with the new setup.

Well before the recent winter test at Sebring, the Corvette factory team had the new cars out at Road Atlanta for a test session focused on evaluating and calibrating the new electronic shift mechanism. Now that there’s no more third pedal, the electronic brains will have to manage the timing of de-clutching, moving the internal mechanisms in the gearbox and either closing or blipping the throttle during gear changes. Everything has to be perfectly choreographed in order to optimize performance and reliability.  Check out the video for more details from program manager Doug Fehan and crew chief Doug Binks.

Porsche Panamera S Hybrid Video: Luxury Goes Green

A week after teasing the announcement of a new production hybrid model at the Geneva Motor Show, Porsche has revealed the Panamera S Hybrid.  Everyone knew this hybrid GT was coming; Porsche told us as much when the Panamera debuted in 2009.

In fact, there really are no surprises about the hybrid-electric Panamera. The powertrain is basically the same found in the battery-assisted Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg. That means primary propulsion is provided by the sweet supercharged and direct-injected 3.0-liter V6 created by the Volkswagen Group. In the hybrid applications it generates 333 horsepower and a stout 325 pound-feet of torque.

Additional motivation is provided by a disk-shaped 46 hp electric motor that takes the place of the torque converter for the eight-speed ZF automatic transmission.  A clutch on either side of the motor allows either blended gas-electric drive, pure electric drive or simple neutral coasting.  Electrical energy generated by the engine turning the motor or regenerative braking is stored in a nickel metal hydride battery pack  that sits under the trunk. Given the price of the Panamera, its odd that Porsche has opted for the older battery technology rather than the lithium ion pack that Audi is using for its upcoming Q5 hybrid. With Porsche’s continuous improvement philosophy, the battery will probably be updated within a year or two.

The motor-transmission configuration means that the motor is spinning at lower speeds  than the motors in integrated power-split hybrids like those from Toyota, Ford and General Motors. That means it can cruise in pure electric mode at speeds up to 53 mph. Oddly, that’s slower than the 80+ mph speeds possible with the Cayenne.

Aside from the powertrain configuration, the rest of the functionality is pretty much what you would expect from any strong hybrid system. That means automatic start-stop, electric boost and regenerative braking.  In addition to the drive system, Panamera hybrid buyers can also select new specially developed Michelin low rolling resistance tires.

On the European drive cycle, that all adds up to a combined average of 34.6 miles per U.S gallon, a mighty impressive number for such a large car that sprints to 60 mph in just 6.0 seconds.  Stick with real tires, and you’ll do a bit worse at only 33.1 mpg.  Results achieved on the EU drive cycle tend to be a bit more optimistic than EPA’s numbers so real world results will probably be closer to the mid-to-upper 20s.

The Panamera S Hybrid goes on sale in Europe in June of this year and comes to America in the fall with a base price of “just” $95,000. That makes it a bargain compared the Lexus LS600h, and the Porsche will actually be entertaining to drive, unlike any LS. Even so, 100G of Porsche money should go to something proper, like the 4S Turbo, but hey, it’s your money.

Don’t Call It A Comeback

Watch TV lately? You can’t escape the latest marketing blitz by a resurgent Chrysler or General Motors. Spots follow the same general theme:

“The big three are back! Detroit’s shaking things up again!” So much is wrong with those two statements.

First, Ford never left, and we’ve whipped up a commercial to answer Eminem and “Chevy Runs Deep,” since it seems that Ford is practicing a lot of discretion on the matter.

Second, don’t forget that Ford never took part in accepting loans. General Motors and Chrysler did and it isn’t the first time.

Ford F-150 EcoBoost Torture Test

What happens when you take the new EcoBoost engine found in the 2011 Ford F-150 and:

  • Run it on a dyno for 300+ Hours, including more than an hour of WOT?
  • Install it in a truck, and tow timber?
  • Throw it around a NASCAR track, towing two stock cars at 80+ mph for 24 hours?
  • Put it up against the Ram and Silverado in a trailer drag race?
  • Throw the engine in a Baja truck and run it over the desert for over 1,000 miles?

The answer? It eats it up an asks for seconds. We’re still awaiting the conclusion video, “Teardown,” but the rest of the stuff is pretty impressive. Is it an excellent bit of marketing, full of comparisons slightly edged towards Ford’s favor? Probably. Considering that you’re taking a V6 and throwing an extra point-of-failure (the turbos), putting it up against the competition’s V8s, and doing things that the average customer would never do, the fact that the engine stays running is what I’d call a clean bill of health.

You can watch Ford put the EcoBoost engine through its torture tests here.