SPRINT START

After a tentative first lap around a slippery Brands Hatch, all hell breaks loose. Foot hard down, we slice along the pit straight with ferocious speed and a pure, sharp engine noise fills the cabin – the angry growl of a McLaren twin-turbo V8 in full cry. This is the new McLaren 12C GT Sprint, closely related to the 12C road car, but re-engineered for track use by McLaren GT, McLaren Automotive’s competition department.

The modifications include stripping out interior carpets and sound proofing, and our example is also fitted with an optional sports exhaust. The result is a spine-tingling noise, one that perfectly sums up what the GT Sprint is all about: take a 12C, with all its refinement and everyday usability, and refocus it to be harder, faster and louder.  

It’s the perfect next step for 12C drivers who have succumbed to the irresistible urge to go racing: the GT Sprint delivers significantly increased on-track performance, while retaining the familiar surroundings and driveability of the 12C road car. And yes, it also looks absolutely gorgeous.

The 12C road car’s 625PS, 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 is at the heart of the 12C GT Sprint, along with the seven-speed double-clutch transmission. The road car’s innovative ProActive Chassis Control (PCC) is also retained, though the new car sits 40mm lower. The system may be retuned, but it’s still adjustable at the turn of a switch.

The FIA-approved roll cage, adjustable race seat and digital dashboard display create a hardcore ambience – though the air-conditioning is retained for driver comfort.

If you’ve driven a 12C road car, you’ll feel at home in the 12C GT Sprint: to exit the pit lane, simply dab the brake, click back on the right-hand paddle to engage first gear and squeeze the throttle – all very familiar. Unfortunately, the track conditions aren’t so reassuring. Brands Hatch is cold and wet today, and it takes a little while to get some heat into the tyres, but thanks to the GT Sprint’s stability control, there’s no skittishness.
 
Soon you begin to drive with more commitment, at which point the GT Sprint reveals its racer’s edge. The power is addictive, the braking epic, the finesse of the electronic driver aids truly miraculous. Even in these tricky conditions it’s a blast – in the dry, it must be sensational. If you’ve been bitten by the track-day bug, or if you have GT racing dreams, the new GT Sprint is a car that will make you look the part, feel the part, and with an authentic soundtrack to match.

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