McLaren is readying its 720S for the race circuit, with the 720S GT3 customer racing car now undergoing testing at tracks around the world. The company is now putting two development cars through a combined 18,500 miles of track testing before unleashing the cars for customer race teams to enter in GT3 series in 2019.
Of course, this is not simply a case of bolting some new seats into the road car: McLaren says that about 90 percent of the components in a 720S GT3 are new or "optimized" for racing use. The car's literal backbone remains the tough Monocage II carbon-fiber tub, bolstered by an FIA-certified roll cage. All of the car's body panels are unique, with a new splitter and new wing among the changes to improve the 720S' on-track aerodynamic performance.
The twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 engine from the standard McLaren 720S has been reworked for racing duty, with an "improved torque curve" and fuel-efficiency tweaks for endurance races. Though no output figures are quoted, note that the street-legal version dishes up 710 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque.
Other changes include upgrades brakes with race-specific ABS and traction-control systems, a six-speed sequential transmission, Pirelli racing tires, four-way adjustable suspension dampers and center-locking wheels for faster tire changes during pit stops. The stripped-out cabin features a carbon-Kevlar racing seat, a rear-view camera and radar system and a fire extinguisher. In other words, all the typical upgrades one would need to certify a racing machine for GT3 use.
Fully prepped racing cars of this caliber rarely come cheap, and the 720S GT3 is no different with a sticker price of $564,000. That makes the $342,135 as-tested price of the road-going 720S we just drove seem eminently... well, perhaps not affordable, but certainly more approachable.
McLaren's 570S GT4 racing car has already proven a success on the circuit. According to the manufacturer, the GT4 has racked up 50 class wins globally since its debut in 2017.
While we're unlikely to get seat time in the GT3 version, the McLaren 720S road car blew us away in a recent test drive. "Its raw feel mixed with the precision response is unlike anything else with four wheels," wrote Roadshow Editor in Chief Tim Stevens, concluding that the 720S, "is perhaps a bit too much for the road -- at least, for any road with traffic laws."