Coinciding with the market launch of the SLS AMG on 27 March 2010, Mercedes-AMG is presenting a GT3 variant. This racing version of the gullwing model stands out with its spectacular design and thoroughbred motor sports technology. Developed to comply with the GT3 specifications of the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile), the SLS AMG GT3 is designed as a racing sports car for customers competing in sprints and long-distance races. These race series for near-series GT cars are noted for their very varied participants and great excitement. Not least because of their comparatively favourable cost structure, they are enjoying increasing world-wide popularity.
“Thanks to uncompromising lightweight construction and superior handling dynamics, the SLS AMG provides an outstanding basis for a highly competitive racing car. This exciting GT3 version is our response to strong customer demand for a car designed for these attractive motor sports series. Once again, it demonstrates AMG’s huge experience gained in more than 40 years of motor sports, and its great expertise in the development of unique high-performance cars,” says Volker Mornhinweg, Chairman of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.The new SLS AMG GT3 is an emphatic continuation of AMG’s commitment to motor sports. AMG has been a pioneer in the motor sports world ever since its foundation in 1967. The new racing version of the SLS AMG is developed and produced by AMG in close cooperation with HWA AG. HWA is responsible for the DTM racing team on behalf of Mercedes-Benz Motorsports. The HWA team is one of the most successful in international motor sports, as witness nine driver championships in the DTM and ITC, as well as two championship titles in the FIA GT Championships.The SLS AMG GT3 is set to write another chapter in this success story, and harks back to the 300 SL racing sports car of 1952 which first established the “gullwing” legend. Its historic victory in the “Carrera Panamericana” long-distance race also made Mercedes-Benz a household name in North and Central America, and demonstrated the know-how and expertise of the Stuttgart-based automobile company.
The new SLS AMG GT3 is wide, flat and has spectacular racing car looks. The main focus when modifying the body of this gullwing model was on aerodynamic performance – as is seen not only in the new front apron with a splitter, the bonnet with its central cooling air vent and the wider front and rear wings, but also in the the side wheel arch air vents, the sideskirts with cooling ducts for the rear brakes, the smooth underbody with a rear diffuser and the adjustable rear aerofoil. All these features ensure a low drag coefficient and maximum downforce – while guaranteeing effective cooling of thermally highly stressed components. The C-pillars accommodate the standardised filler pipes for the fast-refuel system.The FIA will determine the maximum output of the AMG 6.3-litre V8 front-mid engine with dry sump lubrication on the “Balance of Performance” principle. This is intended to ensure that all the racing cars taking part have an equal chance. The classification process, during which the kerb weight is also determined, will be completed in 2010. Power transmission in the GT3 variant is by a sequential six-speed racing transmission with steering wheel shift paddles and an integrated multi-disc locking differential. As in the standard SLS AMG, the transmission is located at the rear axle: the engine and transmission are connected by a torque tube within which a carbon-fibre shaft rotates at the engine speed, as in the road-going version.The wheels are located by a double-wishbone suspension of forged aluminium at the front and rear. Adjustment facilities for the springs and shock absorbers, the suspension height, the stabilisers, the track width and camber allow an individual setup for the racetrack. Rack-and-pinion steering with a more direct ratio and speed-sensitive servo assistance make for extremely agile handling. Behind the central-locking AMG light-alloy wheels, a composite steel racing braking system with racing ABS ensures outstanding deceleration.
Functional racing car atmosphere in the interior
The interior of the SLS AMG GT3 is dominated by a functional racing car atmosphere: the steel rollover cage not only ensures the driver’s safety, but also adds additional reinforcement to the aluminium spaceframe. Another eye-catching feature is the racing buucket seat with a six-point seat belt and HANS system (Head and Neck Support). The central display is perfectly positioned in the driver’s field of vision, and shows all the relevant information such as speed, engine rpm, operating temperatures, lap times and the selected gear. The open-top racing steering wheel with gearshift paddles makes perfect vehicle control possible.Additional controls are located on the centre console. This is where the driver can not only start the AMG V8 engine or adjust the traction control, but also select reverse gear or – if the worst comes to the worst – activate the integrated fire extinguisher system. The adjustment control for the brake balance is located on the torque tube tunnel.
Testing programme with Bernd Schneider started in June 2010
Development of the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 testing programme began on the Lausitz Eurospeedway in June 2010. Bernd Schneider (46) – who has been a Mercedes-Benz works driver for many years and is also an AMG brand ambassador – and Thomas Jäger (33) were brought on board as test drivers. With five DTM titles, one ITC championship and one FIA GT championship to his name, Bernd Schneider is one of the most successful German racing drivers. Thomas Jäger is the reigning Porsche Carrera Cup (Germany) champion, and drove in DTM for Mercedes-Benz between 2000 and 2003. This season he is lining up in the ADAC GT-Masters (Germany).
For Bernd Schneider, who will be doing the bulk of the test driving, developing a basic setup is a top priority. “The SLS AMG has excellent genes for being successful in motor racing. Even on my first fast laps at the Lausitz Eurospeedway, it was obvious that the GT3 version of the gullwing model has just what it takes to be a big hit on the racetrack. The combination of optimum weight distribution, a low centre of gravity, a powerful AMG V8 engine and efficient aerodynamics already indicates that the SLS AMG GT3 will be very competitive.”