Much to the delight of many, Mercedes unveiled the SLS AMG GT3 race car at New York. Citing strong customer demand, the German company will pit its brand-new SLS coupe against the likes of Corvette, Ferrari, Porsche and other popular makes competing in the FIA GT3 Championship. The GT3, as it's called, is prepped for racing by AMG, the company's performance branch that also builds the road car.
Featuring lightweight construction, modified suspension and brakes aerodynamically enhanced bodywork, the AMG GT3 is nearly 2 in. wider than the road-going SLS and sports a new front apron with larger air intakes that feed the engine oil cooler and brakes. A carbon-fiber front spoiler enhances front downforce and blends into the underbody cladding, which terminates at a rear diffuser. A large air duct in the carbon fiber hood helps dissipate engine heat.
Flared fenders accommodate extra-wide lightweight center-lock wheels shod with racing slicks or rain tires. Side skirts with brake-cooling ducts smooth the airflow across the car's flanks while an adjustable, carbon-fiber wing provides downforce for the GT3's rear end, which sports a rear apron with ducts that siphon heat from the vented disc brakes. Fundamentally unchanged from the road car, the racer's double wishbone suspension features adjustable springs and dampers. Track width and camber are also adjustable, as is ride height.
Nearly stock, as per FIA GT3 rules, the racer's 6.2-liter V-8 will undoubtedly be restricted to produce fewer horsepower than the road car's 563 bhp. Its torque-tube driveline with carbon-fiber driveshaft ties the engine to the rear-mounted, sequential-6-speed racing transmission.
A glance into the GT3's cockpit reveals a steel rollcage, racing bucket seat, 6-point safety belts and a HANS device a quick release, paddle-shifter-equipped racing steering wheel. Switches for the engine, traction control, reverse gear and onboard fire extinguisher system are mounted on the center console.
AMG will begin taking customer orders this fall for cars that are to be delivered in time for the 2011 racing season following the GT3's homologation next March. Although the car will initially compete only in the FIA European GT3 Championship, M-B says it will ultimately race at Le Mans and in North America, possibly in a single-make cup series.