BLITZING BAD-BOY GT3

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - MOTORING -

These days Euro­pean ex­otics rather than V8 Su­per­cars rule the road at Mount Panorama, in­clud­ing the bad boy race-bred AMG GT3. It’s the fastest Benz short of Lewis Hamil­ton’s F1 car and any­one with $500,000 can buy one, whether pro­fes­sional rac­ers or cashed-up fans.

There were plenty in last week­end‘s Bathurst 12-Hour, in­clud­ing the car that fin­ished sec­ond with Jamie Whin­cup on the ros­ter. I drove one the day af­ter, rigged for rac­ing and trail­ing the pace car of for­mer F1 driver Bernd Sch­nei­der. Crank­ing across the top of the moun­tain, trail­ing V8 thun­der and twist­ing the dig­i­tal speed read­out past 200km/h, I was on top of the world.

Su­per­car pilot Scott McLaugh­lin set the Bathurst 1000 bench­mark lap last year in a Ford Fal­con: 2 min­utes 04.90 secs. Chas Mostert took pole for the 12-Hour in a BMW M6 at 2:01.93. A Su­per­car is quick on the straight, at nearly 300km/h down Con­rod, while a GT3 flies through cor­ners and stops as if it’s been hit with a brick.

The home­grown V8s (595kW) are rel­a­tively prim­i­tive, with a man­ual six-speed gear­box, hard­com­pound Dun­lop slicks, 1410kg limit and no ABS or trac­tion con­trol.

The GT3 Benz, with a 6.3-litre V8 (404kW), gets ABS and trac­tion con­trol, huge Pirelli slicks, car­bon-fi­bre body­work, gi­ant wings and 1285kg limit. It hits 100km/h in 3.8 se­conds.

With the V8 idling like King Kong in a cage, I fol­low Sch­nei­der. Then we’re off at full throt­tle with the dash lights telling me to take the next gear. Again and again. The Benz is hot and in­tim­i­dat­ing, wan­der­ing more than I ex­pect on the straights, but it is fast, fast, fast. And the gi­ant brakes mean it stops, stops, stops. Sur­pris­ingly light, the steer­ing turns the mo­ment I think about a cor­ner, al­low­ing me to pick up the throt­tle early. It’s huge fun and it’s over way too fast.

I keep think­ing about the real po­ten­tial of the blitzer Benz. Without the re­stric­tions to keep the 12-Hour field even, it could eas­ily be the first car to lap Mount Panorama in less than two min­utes.

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