AMG has been producing racing versions of Mercedes-Benz cars and high performance street machines for over four decades. That tradition continues with the unveiling today in Mexico of a GT3 spec version of the new SLS gullwing coupe. Sales will start this fall and AMG hopes to have the homologation process completed in time for the 2011 race season.
The GT3 SLS will use the same 6.3-liter V8 as the road car, but the FIA will determine its final output for racing. The aerodynamic enhancements are the big news here, with changes to the bodywork evident all over. The front end features a deep carbon fiber splitter that's only bested by the large rear wing out back. The hood sports a large cooling event and there are air intakes for brake cooling in the side skirts and cooling vents in the fenders behind the front wheels as well. Other race-spec features include a smooth underbody, rear diffuser, central-locking wheels and fuel filler pipes in the C-pillar.
Given the racing heritage of the original SL from the 1950s, seeing a gullwing back racing on the track will be the best kind of déjà vu for fans of the three-pointed star.
2011 Mercedes SLS AMG - Laguna Seca Hot Lap
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2011 Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 Race Car Montage
The new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3: Thoroughbred racing technology, spectacular racecar design Automotive fascination combined with spectacular racing car design -- the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3. This racing version of the gullwing model was designed as a customer sports car for competing in race series according to the near-series FIA GT3 rulebook. Outstanding driving dynamics are ensured by uncompromising lightweight construction and specific modifications to the suspension, brakes and aerodynamics.
The purist design of the SLS AMG, with its long bonnet, flat greenhouse positioned well to the rear and short rear end, is enhanced even further by the GT3 variant. The modifications to the body give the gullwing an even more spectacular appearance. The aim is a further improvement in aerodynamic performance.
At the front the GT3 racing car has a new front apron with larger air intakes: the wide aperture below the characteristic radiator grille with a large Mercedes star and a wing-shaped transverse fin supplies the engine oil cooler and brake discs with cooling air. The two air intakes below the vertically arranged bi-xenon headlamps have the same function. Downforce at the front axle is provided by four externally mounted "flics" and the carbon-fibre front splitter: this blends into the smooth underbody cladding which ends with the rear diffuser.
The bonnet has a central aperture to dissipate the engine heat. The hot air is vented in the wheel arches from side vents in the front wings. Particularly lightweight polycarbonate glazing is used all-round.
The front and rear wheel arches are flared to make space for the large racing tyres. With a width of 1990 millimetres, the body of the GT3 is a good 50 millimetres wider than that of the standard SLS AMG. The new side skirts have apertures for cooling the rear brakes. The smooth underbody is visible at the lower edges of the side skirts. The standardised filler pipe for the fast-refuel system is accommodated in the B-pillar. The 120-litre fuel tank is centrally located behind the driver.
Wide rear apron of carbon-fibre
Viewed from the rear, the SLS AMG GT3 impresses with its sheer width. The boot lid is surmounted by a wide carbon-fibre rear aerofoil, which has multiple adjustments and allows a perfect setup for the type of racetrack concerned. The new rear apron features two apertures designed to vent the rear wheel arches. The carbon-fibre rear diffuser is another eye-catching feature: as an extension to the smooth underbody, it gradually rises in the rear axle area and generates a downforce thanks to its shape. The overall aerodynamic concept of the SLS AMG GT3 was refined and finalised in extensive wind tunnel and racetrack tests. All the resulting measures ensure a high level of aerodynamic efficiency, and also guarantee effective cooling of thermally highly stressed components.
The rain light prescribed by the rulebook is integrated into the boot lid -- it must remain permanently switched on if the weather conditions are poor.
Near-series AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine
As prescribed by the FIA GT3 rules, the AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine is practically identical to that in the standard model. Thanks to its lower weight, the GT3 will considerably better the already outstanding acceleration of the standard model -- 3.8 seconds from zero to 100 km/h; depending on the final drive ratio, the top speed will exceed 300 km/h. Typical of an AMG: the thrilling and characteristic eight-cylinder sound.
The peak output of the AMG 6.3-litre V8 front-mid-engine with dry-sump lubrication is determined by the FIA according to the "Balance of Performance". This is to ensure equal chances for all the participating racing cars. Classification, which also determines the kerb weight of the vehicle and other factors, will take place in spring 2011.
The AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine also has a dry sump lubrication system in the racing model. Using vacuum and pressure pumps, as well as an external oil tank, makes it possible to dispense with a conventional sump. This technology ensures reliable engine lubrication even under the high lateral acceleration forces encountered on the racetrack. Dry sump lubrication also allows a low installed position for the V8 engine -- one of the key technological highlights of the SLS AMG. Installing the eight-cylinder as low as possible, as a front-mid-engine behind the front axle, and combining it with a transmission located at the rear axle, leads to a favourable weight distribution. The transaxle arrangement also optimises handling and traction.
2010 BMW Z4 GT3 (720p)
The BMW Z4 GT3, which was officially launched and completed its first test drives at the start of March, is already enjoying great popularity among BMW Motorsport customers. The first cars have been delivered to private BMW teams, who will prepare them for use in various national and international championships.
"The feedback on the BMW Z4 GT3 is extremely positive," says BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen. "This sports car rounds off our product range, and offers drivers and teams the opportunity to compete in championships in accordance with the GT3 regulations - such as the FIA GT3 European Championship, the International GT Open or the ADAC GT Masters - as well as at 24-hour endurance races." In addition, the BMW M3 GT2, the BMW 320si WTCC, which complies with Super2000 regulations, and the close-to-production BMW M3 GT4 are also available to customer teams from all over the world at BMW Motorsport Distribution.
The production model of the BMW Z4 is already impressive: with its elongated bonnet, flared wheel arches, long wheel base and narrow projections, the car boasts an unmistakable appearance. The two-seater provided BMW Motorsport engineers with a good basis for developing a close-to-production GT3 racing car.
The largest difference between production and racing car can be found under the bonnet: while the production version of the BMW Z4 is driven by a six-cylinder engine, the GT3 car is powered by a 4.0-litre eight-cylinder engine similar to the unit used in the BMW M3 GT2. This powerful heart produces over 480 bhp. Its excellent performance characteristics and good torque curve make the base engine from the production version of the BMW M3 predestined for use in motorsport.