Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium - Just because Mercedes-AMG is getting out of German Touring Cars in favour of Formula E, doesn’t meant the Affalterbach whitecoats are giving up on big, hairy-chested V8 racing cars anytime soon.
Say hello to their latest customer competition car, the Mercedes-AMG GT4, making its world debut this weekend at the Spa-Francorchamps 24 Hours.
It’s based on the AMG GT-R, modified and developed to conform to GT4 production-based sports-car racing rules, and it’ll be available to privateer teams from the end of 2017.
The company’s first GT4 entry has the advantage of AMG’s years of experience in building machinery for the even more hotly-contested GT3 series, and Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing head Stefan Wendl is confident it will be competitive from the first lap.
“We aren’t entering a new segment to finish second,” he said after the successful completion of a 30 hour endurance test at race pace at the Lausitzring; for more real-world testing, three prototypes will also be run in selected races - starting at Spa - for the rest of this season.
The new GT4 is built around Affalterbach’s proven four-litre twin-turbo V8, modified and tuned to deliver up to 375kW and more than 600Nm, depending on the balance of performance rating. As on the GT3, it drives the rear wheels via a pneumatically-operated six-speed paddle shift sequential gearbox (and externally adjustable limited-slip differential) in unit with the rear axle for ideal weight distribution.
Suspension is by double wishbones and dampers with adjustable rebound and compression all round, braking by multi-adjustable ABS with six-pot callipers on 390mm front and four-piston callipers on 355mm rear ventilated composite discs, behind 18 inch forged-alloy AMG rims shod with 305/660 front and 305/680 race rubber.
The lightweight aluminium spaceframe of the road-going GT R has been reinforced with a bolted-in high-strength steel roll-cage; in addition to street-standard carbon-fibre parts such as the front wings and torque tube, the bonnet, front apron and front splitter have been replaced with race-spec carbon-fibre components, keeping the weight of the car down to about 1390kg.
The carbon-fibre driver safety cell has an integrated head restraint and fittings for an F1-style Head and Neck Support brace (and, if there is anybody brave enough to ride with you, you can get a second safety cell for the passenger side). Also standard are an extrication hatch in the roof and an onboard fire extinguishing system.
Endurance racing goes on into the dark, so all the controls on the steering wheel are illuminated, as are the master switches on the centre console, which is sharply tilted towards the driver. Fresh-air ducting to the driver’s seat is standard, air-conditioning an option. Torque and traction control are both adjustable to suit varying track conditions.
Deliveries to customer teams will begin at the end of 2017, at €198 850 (R3 022 500) each ex works.