GT3 is an accessible entry-point into top-tier motorsports, both in the real-world and with Project CARS 2. With dozens of manufacturers now vying for your loyalty, there’s never been more choice for drivers looking to dip their toes into the thrill-a-second world of GT3 racing. Project CARS 2 will reflect that abundance of choice with a wide selection of machinery that now includes three more prime entries
GT3 is the playground for so-called ‘gentlemen drivers’. It’s also where young guns go to begin their climb up the motorsport ladder, pitting their nascent talents against grizzled veterans playing out the tail-end of their careers. An easily accessible route for drivers of pretty-much any ability, the variation in driver demographics at a typical GT3 race is only surpassed by the eye-candy of assembled GT3 machinery from many of the world’s most elite manufacturers, all of them keen to steer their race departments into creating bespoke racers for this lucrative market.
What that means for you, the driver, is a wealth of choice when it comes to settling on a GT3 car. In the real-world, it takes around half-a-million dollars to buy your chosen machine and enter it into one of dozens of series worldwide. In Project CARS 2, the entry price isn’t quite that steep, but the wide selection of machinery—a core component of GT3, and its main attraction for spectators—remains a vital ingredient; replicating GT3, after all, is about more than just the rules and regulations—it’s about your access to a rich tapestry of menacing racing cars.
The GT3 set of regulations has been around for a decade, but its success has been stellar. With over 20 manufacturers now selling their GT3s to drivers and teams competing in almost 30 series on virtually every continent, automakers are in hot competition not just on-track, but in showrooms too.
A vital part of GT3’s attraction is the differing solutions that the manufacturers bring to the track. This is inspired by both the openness of the regulations and the mandatory homologation of their road cars.
Performance in GT3 racing is regulated either by the GT Bureau of the FIA, or by the local series that run GT3 cars: what this performance balance testing (which is conducted every year) amounts to is tight restrictions on everything from horsepower to aero’ to weight, thereby ensuring no one manufacturer can dominate the GT3-scene. That, in turn, means more and more manufacturers are enticed into GT3 itself with all sorts of homologated GT3 machinery.
If it’s possible to short-hand GT3 cars, it would look something like this: they come in with a weight between 1,200-1,400KGs, boast horsepower in the 500-600 range, and place a premium on safety. Traction control, ABS, and built-in air jacks for pit stops are mandatory.
There are currently 47 cars that have been homologated by the FIA for GT3 racing. Choosing which of these to race is a difficult decision, and for real-world teams and drivers, a whole host of factors come into play: price, reputation, manufacturer-support, seating position (comfort, for gentlemen racers, often-times of a certain age, is important), and running costs are just a few of them.
In Project CARS 2, though, many of those factors are not a disqualifier, leaving you to choose which GT3 car to race along more pure racing lines; does a mid-engined car suit your style? Do you prefer a naturally-aspirated V10 over a dollop of turbo? Do you prefer the big-weight big-horsepower, or light-weight, less-horsepower?
It’s a choice that will be based around both your affinity for a manufacturer, and what you feel will best complement your skills behind the wheel. As in real-life, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Project CARS 2—and that choice has now been even further refined with three more GT3s.
BMW M6 GT3—if wings could fly
In 2015, BMW decided to replace their sublime but aging GT3 runner, the Z4 GT3 (which you’ll find in Project CARS 2). Faced with a few choices, BMW eventually settled on the M6 as base for homologating their new GT3 challenger.
The difference between the new M6 GT3 and the Z4 GT3 is best explained by BMW Team RLL technical director Jay O’Connell, who told Sportscar 365.com, that, “[The M6] is more stable under braking … and a little less pitch sensitive than the Z4. The car’s got more inherent stability because of it. There’s more downforce on the car than the Z4, it’s got a bigger diffuser, it’s got vertical fins. We’re [now] trying to look at boost vs RPM … and trying to make sure it drives as close to a normally-aspirated engine as possible. The drivers want that instantaneous response.”
The M6 GT3 has more torque than the Z4 GT3, which differed considerably from its road-going version in that its lump was the naturally-aspirated engine derived from the BMW M3. For the M6 GT3, BMW kept faith in the road-going 4.4-litre V8 M TwinPower turbo (detuned to come in within GT3 regulations on maximum horsepower). The M6 GT3 kicks out 577hp (compared to the road-going M6’s 600hp with the competition pack), but if you’re thinking that would make the road-version quicker, you’d be mistaken, because the GT3 is almost 700kgs lighter, coming in at a gym-toned and slender 1,300KGs.
The cost? $380,000.
The M6 GT3 debuted at the back-end of 2015, and began racing in 2016 to immediate success; the Rowe Racing M6 GT3 won the coveted 24 Hours at Spa with BMW works drivers Philipp Eng, Maxime Martin, and Alexander Sims turning the wheel, and by the end of the year, the M6 GT3 had swept up the Veranstaltergemeinschaft Langstreckenpokal Nürburgring Championship (the VLN-series is a 10-race championship held only at the Nürburgring), the Italian GT Championship, and Super GT Championship.
Based on the configuration that has long made BMW one of the world’s most beloved manufacturers, the front-engined, rear-wheel driven M6 GT3 is significantly wider than its road-going cousin, and features not only a hipster-length chin-spoiler, but a rear-wing of colossal proportions, all tested in BMW’s space-age wind tunnel. Added to the GT3 is a six-speed sequential ‘box, and seriously high-performance motorsport electronics. Having learnt lessons from their Z4, the M6 GT3 has also seen big improvements in both its fuel economy and drivability (a longer wheel-base means those wondrous power-slides are just a bash of the gas away), all of which make this a formidable machine in long-distance endurance races. The seating position has also been adapted, and you’ll find yourself in a more central location in the cockpit.
The M6 GT3 has proven both a winner and a successful proposition for many teams around the world; it lines up in series from Australia (Bathurst 12 Hours) to GT World Cup in Macau, the ADAC GT Masters, the European Blancpain GT Series, the Japanese Super GT Championship, and the Australian GT Championship.
And what about North America? Project CARS 2 will also have the GTLM version of the M6 which is adapted to ACO regulations, and which sees the M6 run in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
McLaren 650S GT3—the evolution of winning
The 650S GT3 came with all sorts of hype when it was unveiled at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2014. The model at Goodwood featured McLaren’s mythical number 59 (the number carried by the McLaren F1 GTR that won on debut at Le Mans—something no other car has ever done), and it marked the twentieth anniversary of that famous win. It was also the evolution of McLaren’s epic 12C GT3, winner of multiple titles along with 51 GT3 races from its 2011 launch.
The 650S GT3, however, was not the whole-scale change that came with the M6 over the Z4—rather, this is a reworking of the 12C GT3, bringing improved everything, with a major focus on drivability and aerodynamics (which matter in Project CARS 2), as well as serviceability and safety (which matter less).
The engine remains the same, the fabulous, fire-spitting 3.8-litre M838T twin turbo pushing out 495hp. An aggressive diffuser, designed to offer the 650 GT3 more downforce over the 12C GT3, also makes its way to the rear of the car. The body, meanwhile, is all carbon fibre, and the 650S GT3 comes in at around 1,400KGs. A six-speed sequential and a new front splitter and rear-wing brings further downforce, along with a new ECU to massage the turbo and help with your shifting.
In the cockpit, things have changed too, including a whole new digital dash’ which sits behind the McLaren F1-derived steering wheel.
Only 15 of these cars were planned for production, and they come with a sticker price of around $560,000. It debuted on the world stage in 2015, and scored a podium finish at the Gulf 12 Hours on its first outing. It then went on to win the 2016 Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour race in Australia, with driver Shane Van Gisbergen setting a new outright lap record on The Mountain. In just one year, the 650S GT3 has already begun to replicate the all-winning performance of the 12C GT3.
If a mid-engined turbo GT3 suits your style, this may be your ticket to success.
But before you decide, there’s another mid-engined machine that you may want to take a look at, courtesy of Audi.
Audi R8 LMS GT3—who needs four-wheel drive anyway?
The all-new R8 LMS GT3 debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in 2015, and heralded the arrival of the second generation of the all-conquering Audi R8 LMS ultra series of GT3s (which is also in Project CARS 2). How all-conquering? How about over 100 wins, including Bathurst, Spa, and the Nürburgring 24 Hours (with Project CARS 2 physics consultant René Rast at the wheel)? Or how about the Blancpain GT Series Champions for 2014?
A lot to live up to, then. So what’s new for the 2015 Audi R8 LMS GT3?
Aside from all-new safety features, the R8 LMS GT3 comes in lighter than its predecessor, at a sprightly 1,225KGs, this due mostly to carbon fibre-reinforced plastic body panels, and a new lightweight gearbox. The engine remains the same naturally-aspirated 5.2-litre V10 monster, now tuned for roughly 580hp—detuned about 20hp from the road-going version—and driven by the all-new, close-spaced six-speed sequential with paddle shifters. Aero’ has also been redesigned, and that means a smaller profile rear-wing for reduced drag.
Where this Audi differs significantly with its road-going cousin is the power going to the wheels; whereas the road-going version is four-wheel drive, this has rear-wheel drive to comply with GT3 regulations. For Audi, though, the balance remains the same. Grip is key to Audi’s success, and this new GT3 retains that in spades.
You can buy one for about $490,000, and only 45 will be built initially, as compared to 135 ultras.
“This thing is mind-blowing,” Guy Cosmo, who raced the previous R8 at Petit, told Automobilemag.com. “It feels more like a prototype than a GT car. The balance is inspiring, the braking is phenomenal, and the electronics are really well sorted. Honestly, this is what we’ve been missing with [GT3] cars for all these years.”
The R8 LMS was a winner right out of the box; it claimed the Blancpain championship in 2015, and won the Nürburgring 24 Hours at the first time of asking. Serious pedigree, serious performance, and if you’re in the market for a non-turbo, mid-engined charger, this may well be your weapon of choice.
Options a-plenty then for your GT3 runner. But if none of these are what you’re after, Project CARS 2 has many other options for you—including many more GT3s, from iconic manufacturers, that are yet to be revealed.
The BMW M6 GT3 (and US-based GTLM version), McLaren 650S GT3, and Audi R8 LMS GT3 (with an added Endurance livery) will all come with Project CARS 2, released in late 2017 for the PlayStation®4 system, Xbox One, and PC.