McLaren is “on target” in the development of its 720S GT3, according to McLaren Automotive director of motorsport Dan Walmsley.
The British manufacturer, which has rolled out its first in-house-produced GT car, has exceeded more than 10,000 of its 30,000 km testing target prior to the car’s customer rollout in 2019.
While the majority of the testing has come in Europe and the Middle East, including a recent three-day outing in Bahrain, Walmsley said it will soon expand to North America, as part of its global development approach.
“We’re still on target for where we want to be,” he told Sportscar365. “There’s still some work to be done before we fully homologate the car at the beginning of next year.
“I’ve been personally delighted with the performance of the car. From the first week we tested it, you could see we have something quite special.
“In the early days we ran through some usual system issues we needed to get on top of and now we’ve just been accumulating mileage.
“It’s been a real delight to the drivers we’ve worked with. So we’re really excited to see how it actually fares in a fully-fledged race in a couple of weeks.”
Walmsley said a number of prospective customers have already been integrated into the testing process.
“That’s helped them understand what we’re doing, with the specific nature of the car and any nuances we can make them aware,” Walmsley said.
“Their drivers have had a sample of the hardware as well. It’s been behind closed doors but we’ve been quite open to our customers that have expressed interest in it.”
Compass Racing was recently announced as the first North American team to campaign the car in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Sprint Cup races next year and is expected to be integrated with the development program early next year.
Walmsley: Gulf 12H Debut an “Important Event”
Walmsley said this weekend’s Gulf 12 Hours, which will mark the car’s competitive debut, will serve as a crucial event in the development process.
The test and development car will be driven by Shane van Gisbergen, Alvaro Parente and Ben Barnicoat.
“It’s a really important event for us,” he said. “We’re going to bring some of the development experience but also some people that are going to be working with our customer teams next year.
“It will be an interesting lineup and an interesting, competitive race for us.”
The Abu Dhabi enduro, which is split up into two six-hour segments, will also offer a unique experience for McLaren Automotive’s development team.
“When we go to the Abu Dhabi 12-hour race, the crew that will be running the car will be our development team; they’re not a race team as such.
“Things like pit stops and so-on, we’re a bit rusty!” said Walmsley, who previously served as team manager at Strakka Racing.
“We’ve built up a lot of mileage and also understanding a lot of operational things and procedures in place so we can try and get the best result possible and see it through the 12 hours.”