Maserati MC12

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Maserati MC12
Manufacturer:   Maserati
Production:   2004-present
Class:   Super Car/Ultracar
Body style:    2-door coupe
Engine:   V12
Curb weight:   2943 lb (1335 kg)

The Maserati MC12 is a mid-engined supercar derivative of the Ferrari Enzo . It was developed specifically to be homologated for racing in the FIA GT Championship, with a minimum requirement of 25 road versions before the car could be allowed to compete. Maserati built a maximum of 50 units, with 25 more expected in roadster form.

The MC12 is longer than the Enzo, with the wheelbase enlarged to 2800 mm and length to 5143 mm for better track handling and a new bodywork, with extra downforce at the rear. The V12 engine was detuned from the Enzo’s 660 PS (651 hp/485 kW) to 630 PS (624 hp/465 kW) at 7000 rpm, but otherwise keeps the same layout, a DOHC 65 degree V12 with four valves per cylinder. The gearbox is also identical, Ferrari’s six-speed sequential manual gearbox with paddleshifts behind the steering wheel, renamed Cambiocorsa in the Maserati.

The MC12 beat the Ferrari Enzo on the Top Gear test track by 0.1 second. The Top Gear Presenter Jeremy Clarkson, however, found that it was hard to drive and also very difficult to park, due to the lack of a rear window.

Towards the end of 2004, two MC12s appeared in the FIA GT Championship, run by AF Corse. For three of the four rounds they contested, they were not yet fully approved by the FIA, however for the final round at Zhuhai in China, they gave the MC12 an apt homologation party by taking first and second places, and the Maserati’s first championship points.

For 2005, a new version appeared, to comply with rules set down by the FIA. Although the wheelbase stayed the same, the section ahead of the front axle was noticeably shortened. The new look MC12 was campaigned in the FIA GT series by JMB Racing and Vitaphone Racing, and, controversially, as a full factory effort in the American Le Mans Series. Although it was outside the ACO’s rules (therefore forbidding it from racing at Le Mans and supposedly any series which runs the same rules as Le Mans, including the ALMS) IMSA – the US series’ governing body, allowed it to race in the GT1 class as a guest. Although its race position would be upheld, it would not be eligible to score any points. The decision to let it race caused uproar at the beginning of the season – Aston Martin Racing’s David Richards lodged a formal complaint against its participation. Richards’ complaint was thrown out by IMSA, and the MC12 raced the whole season, albeit relatively unsuccessfully against the factory Chevrolet Corvettes.

More success came in the FIA GT Championship of 2005, with four wins including the blue-riband Spa 24 hours. More notably, three of the four MC12 crews were in with a chance of winning the Drivers’ championship entering the final race in Bahrain, however, all were beaten to the title by Gabriele Gardel in an ageing Prodrive-built Ferrari 550 Maranello. Neverless, the MC12 was proven to be a ruthlessly effective racing car.

In 2006, Vitaphone Racing are be the only team to represent the MC12 in the FIA GT Championship this year, however guest appearances from Racing Box and JMB Racing are scheduled. With further refinements to the car, and a strengthened driver line-up of Michael Bartels, Andrea Bertolini, Jamie Davies and Thomas Biagi, there is every chance that Maserati could achieve their aim and take the Drivers’ championship, to go along with the Manufacturers’ crown they took in 2005.

In the 2006 season thus far, the MC12 has demonstrated it is still as quick as any of its competitors, taking three out of the four 2006 FIA GT rounds, including the recent Spa 24 hours, cementing it’s reputation of reliability after last year’s victory at the Spa 24. MC12s have also taken victory in eleven out of twelve Italian GT races so far.

Despite the fact that factory development of the car has officially ended, the MC12 looks set to be competitive in the FIA GT series for many years to come. This is due to the performance balancing system employed by the SRO, organisers of the series. This same system allowed the Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello to win the championship in 2005, even though, to all intents and purposes, it was an outdated car compared to the MC12 and the Aston Martin DBR9.

Also in 2006, the Le Mans winning outfit Team Goh was supposed to race a Maserati MC12 in the Super GT series, however driver problems (driver Jan Magnussen was forced to return to Denmark due to sudden illness) and disappointing lap times at the Suzuka Circuit during testing forced the team to withdraw. While the car was faster that its Super GT rivals down the straights, it was losing at least 1 second per lap in the corners due to its rivals having better aerodynamics.

In mid-2006, Maserati took the wraps off the MC12 Corsa, probably the ultimate development of the MC12. It is basically a 2005-06 short-nose MC12 GT1 with the engine air restrictors removed, giving a massive 756bhp, way up on the rumoured 610bhp produced by the restricted GT1 car. It is almost Maserati’s equivalent of the Ferrari FXX, as owners will be selected by Maserati and only allowed to drive the car at exhibitions and test sessions organised by Maserati themselves. The car won’t, of course, be road legal or homologated for any kind of racing, due to the lack of the FIA-regulation air restrictors, lack of a quick-fill fuel cap and due to the fact Maserati wouldn’t let you race a Corsa. It is rumoured that no more than twelve examples will leave Maserati’s Viale Ciro Menotti factory.

Because the MC12 has 5.1 lb./hp to carry as opposed to the Enzo’s 4.6 it’s acceleration times are slightly slower than that of the Enzo’s. In June 2005 Motortrend tested the MC12 and the car reached 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, 100 mph in 8.0 seconds, and the quarter mile in 11.8 seconds @ 123.9 mph, while the Enzo reached those times in 3.4 seconds, 7.0 seconds, and 11.0 seconds @ 133.9 respectively. The MC12 also a lower top speed of 205 mph while the Enzo has achieved 220.6 mph at the Nardo Circuit in Italy.

Scribbled on September 25th 2006 in Maserati, Maserati MC12
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