Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3

If you don’t think that this new sports racer from AMG isn’t one of the best looking machines on the planet, then I’ll drive a Tata Nano around the world in 80 days.
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It wasn’t enough that Mercedes-Benz’s ‘go fast’ division AMG released the SLS AMG in Puebla Mexico last week, they have gone one better by presenting a super quick GT3 variant of this magic sports car.

Being in Mexico for this event is no coincidence, this place has history for Mercedes-Benz and specifically, the ‘SL’ badge.

In 1952, the company achieved a milestone in the motor racing world, with a double victory by two of their legendary 300 SLR cars in the gruelling 3100km Carrera Panamerica race across Mexico.

This was an astonishing feat when you consider the driver Karl Kling and co-driver Hans Klenk drove this incredible distance at an average speed of 165km/h on public roads, with little or no safety precautions, in the record time of 18 hours, 51 minutes and 19 seconds.

All the more amazing when you consider that these guys were driving at high altitudes with thousands of bends and in scorching heat.

The second place SL team of Hermann Lang and Erwin Grupp came across the finish line just 35 minutes behind the winners and the “SL” (sporty and light) legend was born.

The SLS AMG GT3 has been designed as a racing sports car in line with FIA GT3 specifications for customers around the world competing in both sprints and endurance races.

GT Series racing has become hugely popular due to the number of high-end exotic cars and the fact that is usually close racing.

The AMG SLS GT3 will use the same heavy duty 6.3-litre V8 monster engine as the road car but performance should be ballistic when you consider the stock AMG SLS will do the 0-100km/h sprint in just 3.8 seconds with a top speed of 317km/h.

The FIA will set the maximum output of the front mid-engine with its dry sump lubrication, in the interest of maintaining similar performance criteria for all race cars in the GT class.

The transmission in the GT3 car will be a sequential six-speed racing unit with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters and a multi-disc locking differential.

The suspension set up is particularly tasty. It’s a double wishbone unit of forged aluminium at the front and rear, with adjustment for the springs and dampers, suspension height and stabilisers.

The track width and camber allow for individual track set up and the rack and pinion steering is quicker and more direct than the road car.

The brakes should be a treat, with composite steel racing braking system with racing ABS for superb deceleration into corners.

AMG have had a little help in developing the GT3 version from HWA AG, the group who build and manage the DTM race cars for Mercedes-Benz.

Essential standard kit includes a steel rollover cage, which apart from the driver protection angle also supports the aluminium space frame.

The racing seat also comes with a six-point racing harness and HANS system (Head and Neck Support).

There’s a digital central display that provides the driver with all the relevant information such as speed, rpm, temperatures, lap times and gear ratio.

Additional controls mean that the car can be started from inside the car, adjust the traction control and even select reverse gear or activate the fire extinguisher system.

With no less than nine driver championships in the DTM and ITC, as well as two championship wins in the FIA GT Series, its fair to say that these guys know their stuff.

The stock AMG SLS already looks mean enough for the track but the GT3 version benefits from some serious aerodynamic aides in the new front apron with spliter and wider front and rear wings.

There is also a central cooling vent in the bonnet, cooling ducts for the rear brakes, rear diffuser and adjustable rear aerofoil for maximum downforce and minimum drag on for long, fast, straights.

You’ll notice the standardised filler pipes for the fast-refuel system on the C-pillars too.

GT Series racing just got a whole lot more interesting.