McLaren 12C GT Sprint: The gentleman’s racer

McLaren Automotive has never built a car – with the possible exception of the somewhat oafish Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren – that did not have the soul of a Le Mans winner. The MP4-12C is no exception.

This year, the British sports-car maker expands its menu with the 12C GT Sprint, a car that is more racer than the 12C road car, but less so than the very hardcore 12C GT3. It is, in the idiom of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and the Ferrari 599XX, a proper gentleman’s racer.

The car debuted as an orange blur back in July, blasting up Lord March’s driveway during the Goodwood Festival of Speed, but the company has brought its racer into clearer focus.

Although the suspension has been dropped by 40mm and the 19in wheels wear Pirelli racing slicks, the car makes use of the road car’s seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and 616-horsepower, 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, albeit fitted with the oil and cooling systems from the GT3 racer. With the exception of an outsize carbon fibre rear wing, aerodynamic enhancements were done with a light touch – just a gently revised front fascia and hood.

The cabin has been stripped of its creature comforts save air conditioning (lest a gentleman break a sweat). Racing additions include a lightweight polycarbonate windscreen, an FIA-approved roll cage, a fire extinguisher, a HANS-compatible composite racing seat with a six-point harness, and an on-board air jack for good measure.

The 12C GT Sprint – currently available to order from McLaren dealers or directly from the company’s racing arm, McLaren GT – commands a cool £195,000 (about $317,000).