The 47th Summer Endurance “SUZUKA 10 Hours Endurance Race” that will be held at Suzuka Circuit in August 2018 is mainly open to the GT3 cars competing around the world, Japanese GT3 cars and JAF-GT cars. One of the appeals of GT3 car racing is the variety of the cars participating. Here are introductions to the world’s GT3 cars that may appear at Suzuka Circuit in 2018. This first edition focuses on European GT3 cars.
Strong machines from Germany, a prominent nation in the automotive industry German simplicity and fortitude are also seen in the country’s GT3 cars
German car manufacturers have released many GT3 racing cars. They quickly understood the standing position of the GT3 category as "commercial racing cars" and have sold many exceptional cars indispensable in the history of the category. Currently, there are four types of German GT3 cars. Each of them will definitely participate in the Suzuka 10 Hours.
The Audi R8 LMS is a GT3 racing version of the R8, a commercially available sports car bearing the name of the prototype racing car "R8" that was virtually invincible in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Audi unveiled the road-going model in 2006 and then introduced the R8 LMS in 2009 into the GT3 market, which had begun to expand at that time. Thanks partially to a successful marketing strategy, the German manufacturer has sold many of these cars, and a new model was released in 2015. Audi sold more than 200 cars in total with the first and second generation models.
The current model is the second generation of the R8 and is modified as a racing version based on a chassis called the Audi Space Frame (ASF). Its V10 engine is mounted mid-ship and its original “quattro” four-wheel drive system is modified to rear-wheel drive due to the FIA GT3 regulation that prohibits the use of four-wheel drive. Audi develops this racing car in parallel with the road going version. At the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2017, a road-going model that makes use of the know-how acquired from the R8 LMS racer has also been unveiled.
As its sales record proves, its performance is high and many R8 LMS cars should enter in the Suzuka 10 Hours. The exhaust note is a definitive characteristic of this car. Once you hear it you cannot forget it.
BMW initially introduced its Z4 sports car in the GT3 market. However, the German manufacturer launched the M6 featuring a large-size coupe body into the GT3 market in 2015 due to several circumstances. The Z4 that was released in its road-going version on the market in 2009 soon revealed its age in terms of the basic design and performance deficiencies of its naturally aspirated V8 engine.
The M6 looks very big and has a graceful, flowing form that does not appear to be a racing car at first glance. However, the car has been modified greatly as a racing car, except for the cabin part, and its compact 4.4-liter V8 "M Twin Power turbo engine" is mounted mid-front, close to the front bulkhead. In the words of drivers, its performance is that of a “cornering machine.” .
Of course, the power output generated by its turbocharged engine is also one of the appeals of the M6 GT3, and the problem of performance deficiency that the Z4 suffered from at high-speed tracks in its era has also been resolved.
Mercedes Benz introduced a GT3 racing version of its super sports model SLS AMG when the German manufacturer released the SLS AMG in 2010. It had characteristics such as good stability during braking and big power output. When the AMG GT, the successor of the SLS AMG was released in 2014, the AMG GT3 was also introduced in 2015 as its GT3 racing version.
Having become somewhat more compact than the predecessor SLS AMG GT3, the AMG GT3 featured enhanced cornering performance as a racing car. The gull-wing doors, which were a defining characteristic of the SLS AMG GT3, were also changed to conventional side-opening doors. Of course, its performance is top class, and it can be said that the AMG GT3 is an all-rounder with strong performance on all types of tracks. The low exhaust note from its V8 engine is also a noticeable characteristic of the AMG GT3.
In addition to its performance, one of the reasons that the Mercedes GT3 models are loved as racing cars is the satisfying level of customer support the company offers. It is said that the racing teams are able to order parts simply via a personal computer.
Porsche has introduced GT3 racing cars since the FIA GT3 category was born, and they have been used and loved in many countries. It is the new 911 GT3 R that was unveiled at Nürburgring in 2015, following the change of the road-going Porsche 911 with its long tradition to the latest type 991. The aerodynamics are inherited from the RSR, LM GTE version of the 911 and improving its potential while keeping the traditional rear-engine, rear-drive layout.
In addition, the 911 GT3 R’s safety performance for the driver has been improved compared to the predecessor, the type 997. Much of the bodywork is replaced by carbon fiber material. There is an impression in Japan that the Porsche boasts speed on the straights, but actually it is rather its cornering performance that stands out now.
The car still has strength in long-distance races that has been a characteristic of Porsche cars. But in addition to that, the car is strong in sprint races as well. It is certain that the Porsche 911 GT3 R is a car that will compete for the overall victory in a race like the Suzuka 10 Hours.
Exotic beauty of form and speed are the selling points
that fans and teams alike admire
There can be found an exciting Latin spirit among the Italian GT3 cars. Ferrari and Lamborghini are, of course, major manufacturers of Italian sports cars. Both manufacturers are actively involve in GT3 car racing, but it is interesting that their stances in GT3 racing are totally different. Maserati released GT3 racing cars in the past but does not currently sell one.
Representative Ferrari sports cars with rear-engine layouts have been used in GT car races since the 1990s, such as the F355, 360 and F430, 458. Ferrari has been supplying FIA GT3-spec racing cars from the F430 model, and their latest GT3 car is the 488 GT3, which is the successor model of the 458 GT3.
This 488 GT3 shares many parts with the GTE version of the model, and it is said that the 388 GT3 can be converted to a GTE spec by rearranging parts. The 488 GT3 is powered by a mid-mounted 3.9-liter V8 turbocharged engine. Its beauty when seen from the rear is characteristic of Ferrari.
The 488 GT3 is obviously a high-performance machine on any type of track, but for a GT3 car the price is very expensive. Nevertheless, there continues to be great demand for it among private entrants who do not mind the price.
Lamborghini, a brand that had hardly produced racing cars in the past, has actively participated in motor sports after joining the Volkswagen Group. Reiter Engineering in Germany originally produced the Lamborghini GT3 cars, but Squadra Corse, a racing company under the direct control of Lamborghini has released the GT3 race cars beginning from the Huracan released in 2015.
Although the Huracan GT3 features a beautiful distinctive low form, a lot of the parts are shared with the Audi R8 LMS, whose road-going model is the sister model for the Huracan road-going version. In a sense, this is an Italian car that incorporates the simplicity and fortitude of the German cars.
Like the Audi R8 LMS, the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 has high levels of reliability and performance.
The exhaust note generated from its 5.2-liter V10 engine is quite similar to that of the R8 LMS, but the setup is different. As with Ferrari GT3 cars, this Lamborghini is in high demand among many customer teams.
Packed with technology from other competitions like F1, WRC, etc.,
They are a minority but outstanding presence
Although there are fewer British road-going sports cars in Japan than those from Germany or Italy, they definitely have many fans around the world. Of course, FIA GT3 car racing is a category that fulfills the wishes of gentlemen drivers who aim at "racing with a longing super cars", and British manufacturers have answered their wishes by releasing GT3 cars.
McLaren Automotive has released a number of road-going super sports cars in recent years and introduced in 2011 a racing version of the MP4 - 12C, dubbed the MP 4 - 12C GT3.
The road-going car 650S was released in 2014 as the successor to the MP 4 - 12C, and the 650S GT3 was also released as a racing car. The basic structure of the vehicle has not changed significantly from the MP4-12C GT3, but it has overcome the weak points of the previous model to greatly improve its reliability.
As the MP4-12C GT3 and the 650S GT3 are not currently participating in races in Japan, the Japanese fans unfortunately cannot see these machines in action. However, these GT3 cars are quite popular outside of Japan, in race series like the Blancpain GT series in Europe. Many technologies from the McLaren F1 team have also been adopted, as seen by its steering wheel, which is like that of an F1 machine.
The Bentley Continental GT3 was released in 2014 as a racing version of the luxury coupe, the Bentley Continental, which was introduced in 2011. It was developed by M-Sport, the company responsible for Ford’s WRC activities with engineer Christian Loriaux, who has developed many rally cars.
The racing version features drastically reduced weight, compared to the 2-ton weight of the road-going version. And the layout of the engine room is modified in order to mount its 4-liter V8 twin-turbo engine as low as possible.
Thanks in part to this, the Bentley Continental GT3 exhibits superior performance that gives it success in the Blancpain GT Series. There are not so many Continental GT3 cars in GT3 racing, due in part to its high price. Nevertheless, its presence is so strong thanks to its large body size.
This is the successor to the Aston Martin DBR S9. The V12 Vantage GT3 was released in 2012 for GT3 racing from the British manufacturer that has a rich history in sports car racing. The LM GTE-spec Vantage features a V8 engine, but this FIA GT3-spec Vantage is equipped with the V12 engine, the same as the DBR S9.
The V12 Vantage GT3 displayed excellent performance in international GT3 races, including SUPER GT and the 24h Race Nürburgring at the beginning of its career. But, because it has been a long time now since its development, fewer cars are actually racing in recent years.
Nevertheless, the V12 Vantage GT3 is still competing in the Blancpain GT Series, and its performance is still there.
It is still unknown whether it will appear in the Suzuka 10 Hours next year, but this car is worth seeing.
Perhaps these cars will also come to Suzuka
Super-rare GT3 cars
FIA GT3 cars are basically racing cars produced by an automaker, or a manufacturer who has been entrusted with production by an automaker. There are also GT3 cars produced by small-scale manufacturers, racing cars that are not homologated yet as FIA GT3 cars, or cars that are made on a one-off basis.
Perhaps there will be some of these cars coming to appear in the Suzuka 10 Hours next year.
This is Jaguar's GT3 type car made by Emil Fray AG in Switzerland, featuring a front-mounted Jaguar 5-liter V8 engine. Despite the fact that homologation has expired, the car has been participating in the Blancpain GT Series thanks to special approval.
Callaway Competition of Germany, a company that has worked on the Corvette cars for many years, produced this GT3 car. The C7 GT3-R displays superb performance in the ADAC GT Masters category.
This is an FIA GT3-spec racing car based on Cadillac’s luxury coupe, ATS. Cadillac Racing has entered it in the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) held in North America. The ATS V.R GT3 showed good performance in the PWC in 2017.
This is a super sports car that film director James Glickenhaus produced on a one-off basis.
Although this is not an FIA GT3-spec vehicle in the strict sense, the SCG-003C was made in accordance with the FIA GT3 regulation and actually participated in the 24h Race Nürburgring.
The Renault Sport R.S.01 is a racing car originally used to compete in Renault's single-make racing series. The R.S.01 features the same 3.8-liter V6 engine as the Nissan GT-R.
Kits that can allow the car to be modified to the FIA GT3-spec are also on sale, and the GT3 version’s R.S. 01 has actually participated in the races.
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