With the 2016 season fast approaching it seems a good time to take a look at what is, by far, the most numerically important racing formula in DSC’s world.
GT3 burst onto the international scene in 2006 at Silverstone, A race meeting burned onto this writer’s mind from the experience of a wander down pitlane on the first morning to be greeted by the sight, unmatched before or since, of almost 50 brand-new racecars (46 were on the entry).
Since then of course the class has become, If not all pervading, then certainly a generic solution to growing and maintaining pro am racing around the globe.
It’s astonishing to think that that was a decade ago but the 10th anniversary year for the class will see an almost unprecedented level of new machinery.
Time then to checkout what we’ve got to expect.
Weights and power outputs where quoted are manufacturer figures and do not take into account subsequent Balance of Performance decisions.
AMG Mercedes Benz: AMG GT3
Mercedes-Benz have had a huge success, both commercially and competitively (almost 200 race wins including several endurance ‘classics;), with their gullwing SLS AMG GT3. So much so that earlier this year, Months after the announcement of the new for 2016 AMG GT3, that the factory was still in the process of fulfilling a dozen orders for the older car.
We’re set then to see the SLS on track for many seasons to come but we’re also going to be hearing very soon now who will be running with its replacement in the AMG lineup from next year.
The new car has already seen race action with two outings in the VLN as the team work to develop the package.
It’s an altogether more compact car than the imposing, for which read ‘massive’, SLS but still features the big 6.3 Litre normally aspirated V8 with its unmistakable soundtrack coupled to a six speed sequential transmission with paddle shift.
Unmistakably different though is the styling with a new “Panamericana” radiator grille and “shark nose” fronting up a very retro look, though the new car features rather more conventional doors than its predecessor.
Much effort has gone into reducing weight, the AMG GT3 has an aluminium space frame with the body mainly in carbon-fibre together with the bonnet, doors, front wings, front and rear aprons, side walls, side skirts, diffuser, boot lid and rear aerofoil.
The suspension is an all-aluminium double wishbone setup, matching that of the roadgoing version.
New safety seats, developed from NASCAR practice, plus the new driver extraction hatch in the roof are installed in the new car.
Aston Martin: V12 Vantage GT3
Aston Martin’s 2016 upgrade for their successful V12 Vantage GT3 features a myriad of changes under the skin of the shapely Vantage bodywork to improve performance and reliability.
Aston Martin Racing is increasing the use of common parts across its range and the revised Vantage GT3 now has similar four-way adjustable Bilstein dampers to those found on the GTE, for greater control and adjustment, as well as the GTE hub nose for faster and more consistent wheel changes.
Under the bonnet there is revised 6.0-litre V12 engine with new cylinder heads and camshaft, and updated oil and water radiators with improved airflow and cooling that will improve engine efficiency and durability, as well as improving performance in high ambient temperatures and during close racing.
The 2016 GT3 drivetrain has an increased pre-load differential to improve stability and traction; a revised drop gear optimised for the latest BOP and track configurations; and a new layshaft installation for durability.
Like the Vantage GTE, the GT3 now has the latest 8862 safety seat and seat fittings.
Audi: R8 LMS
The successor to the original and hugely successful R8 LMS and its later ‘Ultra’ successor is already a familiar sight to many GT3 racing fans. the car has already seen success, not least with an overall win at the Nurburgring 24 Hours.
It is a significantly different car from the earlier version, lighter than before with more technology improved aerodynamics and enhanced safety features.
The car has a substantially modified front end structure plus, for the first time, a CFRP crash element at the rear. Again the new roof hatch is fitted, together with a new ‘safety’ seat.
Despite the additional weight resulting from the additional safety structures and systems the base weight of the race car has been reduced from 1,250 to 1,225 kilograms with a near 40% improvement in torsional stiffness.
The car continues to be powered by the familiar, production spec, 5.2 litre c.585 bhp V10 engine with a scheduled rebuild interval of 20,000 kilometres.
In visible terms the new Audi’s aerodynamic concept is one of easiest changes to see, the car includes a fully lined underfloor and a conceptually integrated rear diffusor meaning that the dimensions of the rear wing can be reduced without a corresponding increase of aerodynamic drag.
Customer deliveries are about to get underway with near 50 cars reportedly already on the production list!
Bentley: Continental GT3
Bentley’s Continental GT3 continues in 2016 after a year of success and frustration.
New customer teams for 2015 saw some racing success with the Bentley always in contention.
There were frustrations though in some of the bigger races for the factory blessed MSport team, the cars on the pace but out of luck.
Cars for new customers in Europe, North America and Asia are already in build as Bentley build towards their 30 car planned total across all markets.
The car remains unchanged for 2016 with its well proven V8 proving strong and reliable.
BMW: M6 GT3
In 2016, the BMW M6 GT3 will replace the now six season old BMW Z4 GT3.
The new car is powered by a twin turbo 4.4-litre V8 engine producing up to 585 hp in a base car weighing less than 1,300 kilograms.
The car has a Ricardo rear transaxle with 6 speed sequential paddle shift, an AP braking system and Bosch anti lock package.
As a full new 2016 car the BMW again features an FIA approved safety cell and drivers extraction roof hatch.
Early issues with the car’s cooling and driver visibility (the latter the result of moving the driving position back in the car for better weight distribution, are believed to be mainly solved and the car passed the Ladoux Balance of Performance testing with no issues.
The net price for the car is 379,000 Euros.
Cadillac’s all new Pratt & Miller built GT3 homologated ATS-V.R CT3 race car, powered by a GM LF4.R 3.6L V6 TT (Twin Turbo) engine started its first season with a factory effort in the Pirelli World Challenge.
The season ended with the car taking the Championship title.
The racing version of the car features larger twin BorgWarner turbochargers, increased capacity intercoolers, competition engine management and direct side-exiting exhaust pushing power output for the racer up to c.600 bhp.
A lightweight production aluminum block and heads plus a rear 6 speed XTrac transaxle, give the ATS-V.R a near perfect weight distribution of 49% front to 51% rear.
The car features Brembo brakes, Penske shocks and Bosch racing electronics.
The Cadillac looks set to test this month at Daytona ahead of a decision whether or not to contest the newly GT3 spec GTD class in IMSA competition in 2016.
Chevrolet: Callaway Corvette C7 GT3-R
After nearly two years of planning the Callaway Competition designed and built Corvette C7 GT3-R was the latest GT3 homologated car to be revealed publicly last weekend at Hockenheim.
It is powered by a Chevrolet-based 6.2L V8 engine producing 600 horsepower, mated to an X-Trac 6-speed sequential gearbox with paddle-shift.
The first car is set to be campaigned by an in-house Callaway Competition team who have latterly focused on the ADAC GT Masters Series. The new car though has turned some heads!
The car was present at the recent Ladoux Balance of Performance test and passed through the process without issues.
Chevrolet: SaReNi Camaro GT3
The bargain basement option in GT3 at under €200,000 as a base car the Reiter Engineering developed SaReNi Camaro GT3 features a 7.9 litre Chevy V8 producing around 650 bhp in a package weighing under 1300 kg.
Transmission is via a Hollinger ‘Speed-shift’ system with the whole package optimised for low parts and running costs.
SaReNi, incidentally is a name made up by combining the first two letters of the names of Reiter’s three daughters, Sabrina, Rebecca and Nina.
Dodge: Viper GT3-R
Pratt & Miller’s Cadillac faces off Riley Technologies’ Dodge Viper SRT® GT3-R .
The Viper chassis has been equipped with a highly efficient aerodynamic package to optimize handling, an Xtrac six-speed sequential transmission with paddle shifters, six-piston front brake calipers with four-piston rears, lightweight wheels and a multi-disc race clutch to help extract maximum performance from the mighty 8.4 litreV-10 engine.
The Viper is priced at $459,000
Ferrari: 488 GT3
There has been precious little publicity thus far about the replacement for one of THE commercially/ numerically most successful GT3 cars on the market.
The twin Turbo V8 powered 488 replaces the normally aspirated V8 powered 458 GT3, both cars products of the Michelotto factory.
The car was tested and approved for GT3 competition at the recent Ladoux Balance of performance tests but there is, as yet, no information available on the plans for the introduction of the GT3 version of the car, the GTE version (above) is set to debut in the hands of Risi Competition at the 2016 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.
Ginetta G55 GT3
The Ginetta continues with its national homologation, its wildly aggressive styling and its Ginetta developed Nissan V8. No FIA homologation, because there’s no road car equivalent but the Ginetta has found fans and buyers in several national GT Championships.
Watch this space but Honda are believed to be preparing an announcement of the rain plans for their forthcoming NSX road car, made more complex by the fact that the car features a hybrid powertrain which is not permitted in GT racing.
Strong suggestions are that a GT3 car is the likely initial international motorsport formula chosen to show off the brand’s newest ‘halo’ car but there are no details yet available.
Jaguar: XKR GT3/F-Type
The long stalled decision by Jaguar on a potential F-Type GT3 programme is now believed to be decided in the negative! Boo Hiss we say.
That leaves the nationally homologated Emil Frey Racing Jaguar XKR GT3 as the only ‘cat’ on track at present, and for the foreseeable future.
The Jaguar hit some form this year with a race win to its credit and with the team, owned by a Jaguar dealer, still applying subtle pressure to the Tata owned company to come up with a new car programme, or at least to make some contribution to their existing efforts.
Lamborghini: Huracan GT3
Introduced at the start of the 2015 season in the hands of Lamborghini development partners Grasser Racing the 1239 kg Lamborghini Huracán GT3 is the first GT3 car developed in-house by the factory Lamborghini Squadra Corse outfit rather than by Reiter Engineering.
The Huracan features an Alu-Carbon chassis and fully integrated FIA-compliant roll-cage with subframes modified at both the front and rear to accommodate a high performance water radiator (front), and for a better positioning of the gearbox (rear) helping to improve both improving aerodynamics and weight distribution.
The bodywork is composite materials and, along with the aerodynamics, has been developed in collaboration with Dallara Engineering.
The Huracan GT3 is equipped with new bodywork fast- fittings and a carbon frame 8862 specification seat, OMP fire extinguishing system and the roof extraction hatch.
The rear-wheel drive Huracán GT3 utilises the familiar, powerful and ultra reliable Audi V10 direct injection engine managed by a Bosch Motorsport control unit that also manages traction control, gearbox and the TFT display on the dashboard.
In Europe, the Huracán GT3 is priced at 369,000 Euro (excluding taxes).
Lamborghini: Reiter Gallardo R-EX ‘Extenso’
The latest, and last, iteration of the Lamborghini Gallardo line of GT3 racers came as Lamborghini took their GT3 efforts in-house from Reiter Engineering’s custody of the efforts thus far.
The R-EX features a radical new rear aero package, widened rear track and bodywork, all in search of improved rear grip and balance.
The car debuted in 2015 and will continue unchanged into 2016.
Lexus: RC F GT3
Lexus have, once again, opted not to homologate the troubled RC F GT3, this despite what has been a fairly successful test and development programme both in Japan (below) and Germany with cars running in the Super GT and VLN Series in 2015.
Despite that the 1,250kg, V8 powered car, producing over 530 bhp reportedly failed to reach the required performance envelope and was not submitted for Balance of Performance.
Informed sources suggested to DSC that it looks likely that the programme will be substantially recast with an entirely different concept likely to be developed on the RC F base, this likely the fourth such iteration/ attempt.
There is currently no information available on where the issues leave the proposed North American programme for the car with a team known to have been approached after a competitive tender process with a view to running the cars.
McLaren: 650S GT3
Another car that was new for 2015, the dramatic looking turbo V8 engined 650S GT3 was immediately on the pace and has had wins in Asia, Europe and North America this year with further customers in place for 2016 we believe.
A new car last year there are no major upgrades planned for 2016 for the mid engined turbo V8 powered car.
Nissan: GT-R NISMO GT3
The GT3 version of Nissan’s ‘Godzilla’ GT-R has another series of major updates for 2016 with a year of racing development and success now under its wheels. the Bathurst 12 Hour and Blancpain Endurance Championship winning car features a raft of modifications make the whole package faster, lighter, more fuel efficient and with better balance and handling.
The car also has a completely new spec braking system to improve performance and driver feel.
ECU mapping developments have improved fuel efficiency with detail changes too to give lower weight and better weight distribution including moving the starter motor from the engine to the rear transaxle lower mounted, smaller and lighter air jacks, a heavily revised steering column and modified and lightened wiring harness.
Utilising the opportunity offered by the homologation of the NISMO version of the rouging GT-R the new race version benefits from reduced drag and more effective front dive planes, rear diffuser and front and rear bumpers for improved aero efficiency in medium and high speed corners.
Porsche: 911 GT3R
The latest iteration of the 911 GT3 line is another 2016 car that has had a less than straightforward genesis with the car’s planned new 500 bhp + direct injection flat 6 proving troublesome, so much so that the current development version of the car, which tested in the hands of the Falken team at the Nurburgring last week, is running with the current car’s older spec engine.
The 2016 car is designed to be lighter and more fuel efficient, based on the new 911 GT3 RS road car safety improvements and improved servicing and repair costs are also on the list of pluses offered by Porsche’s latest GT3 car.
The 2016 GT3R has an 83mm longer wheelbase than the current car for improved weight distribution and handling. the radiator has been repositioned for a better centre of gravity and with revised louvres, improved cooling too.
Porsche’s new braking package sees improved callipers with slightly smaller discs.
On the safety front there is a new reinforced safety cell, fuel cut-off valve and more protective seats together with the driver extraction roof hatch and easily removable doors and windows.
The GT3 R is priced at €429,000 with it’s first race in final form expected to be at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in January 2016 after the interim car debuts later this month in Manthey Racing’s hands in the VLN at the Nurburgring.