Those would be the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 race cars wearing the liveries of ART, ASM, Boutsen Energy, Gulf Racing, United Autosports and Von Ryan Racing. Of course, the Gulf Racing livery is our favourite. The footage was made at the Paul Ricard HTTT where the first official test was held for the Blancpain Endurance Series. Around ten 12C GT3s will line up on the grid for the season opener in Monza next month.

After the exit of the McLaren F1 GTR from the FIA GT Championship in 1998, McLaren returns to the new FIA GT1 World Championship with the MP4-12C GT3 in partnership with the reigning world champion Hexis Racing.

The road legal McLaren MP4-12C sports car has been selected as safety car for FIA GT1 World Championship race at Nogaro on 8-9 April.

Gulf Racing McLaren MP4-12C GT3, Blancpain Endurance Series

ART McLaren MP4-12C GT3, Blancpain Endurance SeriesBoutsen Energy Racing McLaren MP4-12C GT3, Blancpain Endurance Series

United Autosports McLaren MP4-12C GT3, Blancpain Endurance Series
Von Ryan Racing McLaren MP4-12C GT3, Blancpain Endurance SeriesASM McLaren MP4-12C GT3, Blancpain Endurance Series

The first event the MP4-12C will debut in would be the German VLN series on March 31st at the famed ‘ring, the Nürburgring Nordschliefe where Gemballa Racing and Doerr Motorsport will compete in the 12C GT3. Do watch out for the McLaren in the 24 Hour Nürburgring endurance race in May.

Molitor Racing and Gemballa Racing will run in ADAC GT Masters at Oschersleben.

Series Champions Apex Motorsport will enter a new 12C GT3 in selected rounds of this year’s British GT championship, while the Lapidus Racing team will contest the International GT Open series, and also compete in forthcoming 24-hour races at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and Circuit de Catalunya in Spain.

Teams racing the 12C GT3 in 2012 have enlisted the services of highly successful racing drivers for the 2012 season. Former Formula 1 drivers Mark Blundell and David Brabham (also a Le Mans 24hr winning driver) will race for United Autosports and 2011 Formula 2 competitor Jack Clarke will drive for Boutsen Energy. Rob Bell, Alvaro Parente and Alexander Sims, who recently joined the McLaren GT driver line-up for 2012, will be placed with customer teams, while McLaren Automotive Chief Test Driver Chris Goodwin will also contest selected races in a 12C GT3 throughout the season.

Andrew Kirkaldy, Project Manager for McLaren GT said: “I’m excited that we are so close to seeing the 12C GT3 in its first full race season.  The feedback I have received from customers that have already taken delivery of the car is very positive.“The 2011 development programme was challenging, but had many highlights.  We started with a pole position in qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps in the British GT Championship, and ended the race season with a third place finish in Macau.

“In one year, McLaren GT has taken the 12C GT3 from concept to race readiness.  We will learn more about the car in the early part of the season – and expectations will naturally be high of a car full of Formula 1 technology –  but our objective is to makes the 12C GT3 as much a pleasure to own and run as it is race.”

Customer teams will be supported by official McLaren GT engineers throughout the 2012 season, and will also have access to a full range of spare parts at each race.  Away from the track, the teams will be offered the use of McLaren’s simulator, which was used by McLaren Automotive to specify the groundbreaking 12C road car, and by McLaren Racing to develop all of its successful recent Formula 1 cars.

New McLaren GT drivers track test the MP4-12C road car

McLaren GT drivers for 2012 Rob Bell, Alexander Sims and Alvaro Parente

McLaren GT recently announced its official 2012 driver line-up with the acquisition of Rob Bell, Alexander Sims and Alvaro Parente.  As part of an induction programme to McLaren GT and McLaren Automotive, the top trio of GT racing drivers were given the opportunity to get behind the wheel of brand new MP4-12C sports cars at the circuit ‘home’ of McLaren Automotive, Dunsfold Park better known to most petrol heads as the BBC Top Gear test track.

Black MP4-12C at Dunsfold Park, BBC Top Gear (TG) Test TrackRed MP4-12C at Dunsfold Park, BBC Top Gear (TG) Test Track

The 12C GT3 shares the same V8 twin turbo engine and carbon ‘MonoCell’ chassis as its road car sibling, and its aerodynamic package was developed by McLaren GT in partnership with specialist engineers and designers at McLaren Automotive.

Rob Bell said: “Driving the 12C on track was a special opportunity and one that helped us learn a lot about the way McLaren develops its cars. I had a huge grin on my face because unlike any other sports car I have driven, it lacks nothing on track.  It is easy to drive very fast and very safely. I want to find the quickest way around a circuit in any car I drive, and the value of technology like Brake Steer and the 12C’s Airbrake is absolutely clear to me. I actually think I might have been quicker than ‘The Stig’ on the day…”