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What Do Those Switches On The McLaren MP4-12C GT3's Steering Wheel Do?

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Nine McLaren MP4-12C GT3 racecars (in six customer-team liveries, including the classic powder-blue-and-marigold Gulf) are competing this weekend at the Belgian bucket-list confab, Spa24. How does the GT3 differ from the road car — and what it's like to drive in an endurance race? Let's query driver Rob Bell.

Production-based, GT3 cars may not be the darlings of sports-car racing, but neither are they low on tech. On this week's Shakedown, Leo Parente get a driver's-eye look at the MP4-12C GT3 — during qualifying for the Blancpain Endurance Series, Spa 24 Hours — with Bell, a McLaren works driver and veteran of Spa, as well as Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring. We're looking for a better showing this year at Spa for the McLarens, which had a tough time there in 2011. Granted, last year was a development season for the cars. This year is the real deal.


Bell's driving one of the two Gulf Oil-liveried Maccas fielded by British GT3 team, Gulf Racing UK, with co-drivers Mike Wainwright and Andy Meyrick.

In his walkaround of the GT3, Bell talks about some of the aerodynamic tweaks the FIA allows on the GT3s, and how a driver tunes the ABS, traction control and throttle position on the fly to compensate for changes due to tire wear and other factors over the course of the punishing 24-hour race.


Yes, but does all that stuff just add up to the over-nannification of racing? That's for you to decide.