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  Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR      

  Article Image gallery (28) 0004 Specifications User Comments (1)  
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Country of origin:Germany
Produced in:1997
Numbers built:4
Successor:Mercedes-Benz CLK-LM
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:July 12, 2012
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAt the end of the 1996 season the International Touring Car Championship (ITC) imploded, leaving Mercedes-Benz and their competition partner AMG without a platform to showcase their sporting abilities. A new challenge was quickly found in the FIA GT Championship for production based sports cars split over two classes (GT1 and GT2). As an added bonus, cars built to the FIA GT regulations were also eligible to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Although intended for road car derived Grand Tourers, the regulations simply stated that homologation for GT1 required a minimum of 25 examples to be produced.

In 1996 Porsche were the first to exploit the loophole with their purpose-built 993 GT1 racer, which competed against Ferraris and McLarens that were actually derived from road cars. For incomprehensible reasons, the FIA helped the time-strapped Mercedes-Benz /AMG (as well as several smaller manufacturers) by changing the homologation date from ahead of the first race to the last day of the year. This left the boys from Stuttgart to focus exclusively on their upcoming GT1 racing car.

While the Porsche GT1 car was built around existing 911 (993 and later 996) road-car monocoque, Mercedes-Benz went ahead and started with a clean sheet. A cutting-edge carbon fibre monocoque chassis was drawn up, which was created by Lola Composites in the UK. Suspension was by double wishbones and pull-rod actuated coil-springs over dampers on both ends. Mounted amidships was an AMG modified version of Mercedes' six-litre V12 engine. Breathing through the mandatory intake-restrictors, it was still good for at least 600 bhp. The quad-cam V12 was mated to a six-speed sequential gearbox.

The rolling chassis was clothed in carbon-fibre body panels that vaguely reminded of the CLK road car the new CLK-GTR racer was supposedly based on. The only bits to find its way from the CLK onto the racing car were the grill and the dashboard. The head and taillights also bore a resemblance with the recently introduced two-door coupe. During the development of the advanced aerodynamics, Mercedes' engineers actually used a McLaren with new bits grafted on them during testing. From the start of the design work, it took just 128 days to complete the first two cars. This enabled Mercedes to take part in the opening round of the FIA GT Championship, which was held up the road at the Hockenheimring.

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  Article Image gallery (28) 0004 Specifications User Comments (1)