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Maserati MC12
An MC12 at the 2004 Paris Motor Show
Manufacturer Maserati
Parent company Fiat Group
Also called MC12 Versione Competizione[1][2]
Maserati MC12 Stradale[1]
Maserati MCC (development codename)[2][3]
Production 2004-2005 (50 produced)
Predecessor Maserati Bora, Maserati Merak, Enzo Ferrari
Successor Maserati MC12 Corsa (2006)
Class Sports car
Racing car
Body style(s) 2-seat Berlinetta
Layout Rear mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine(s) 6 L V12 465 kW (624 hp)[4]
Transmission(s) Maserati Cambiocorsa semi-automatic transmission[5]
Wheelbase 2,800 mm (110.2 in)[6]
Length 5,143 mm (202.5 in)[6]
Width 2,100 mm (82.7 in)[6]
Height 1,205 mm (47.4 in)[6]
Curb weight 1,335 kg (2,943 lb)[4]
Fuel capacity 115 L (25 imp gal; 30 US gal)[1]
Related Enzo Ferrari
Ferrari FXX
Maserati MC12 Corsa
Designer Frank Stephenson

The Maserati MC12 is a two-seater sports car produced by Maserati to allow a racing variant to compete in the FIA GT Championship. The car entered production in 2004 with 30 cars produced (five of which were not for sale). A further 25 were produced in 2005 making a total of 50 cars available for customers, each of which were pre-sold for 600 000.[5][7]

Maserati designed and built the car on the chassis of the Enzo Ferrari but the final car is much larger with less drag coefficient.[7] The MC12 is longer, wider and taller and has sharper nose and smoother curves than the Enzo Ferrari, which has faster acceleration, better braking performance (shorter braking distance) and a higher top speed. The top speed of the Maserati MC12 is 330 kilometres per hour (205 mph) whereas the top speed of the Enzo Ferrari is 350 kilometres per hour (217.5 mph).[7][8]

The MC12 was developed to signal Maserati's return to racing after 37 years.[9] The road version was produced to homologate the race version. One requirement for participation in the FIA GT is the production of at least 25 road cars. Three GT1 race cars were entered into the FIA GT with great success. Maserati began racing the MC12 in the FIA GT toward the end of the 2004 season, winning the race held at the Zhuhai International Circuit. The racing MC12s were entered into the American Le Mans Series races in 2005 but exceeded the size restrictions and consequently paid weight penalties due to excess range.

Contents

Development

Development of the Maserati MC12 began while Maserati was owned by Ferrari in order to create a race car for Maserati that would be eligible to compete in the FIA GT. Its initial name was the MCC, meaning Maserati Corse Competizione, and development under the direction of Giorgio Ascanelli was planned to be simultaneous with that of the MCS, the road going version.[2] The body shape was developed from an idea by Giorgetto Giugiaro during wind tunnel testing, though the majority of styling was by Frank Stephenson.[10] The MCC had a very similar body shape to the MC12 but there were several key differences, most notably the rear spoiler.[2] Andrea Bertolini was the chief test driver throughout the development (although some testing was done by Michael Schumacher),[11] frequently testing the MCC at the Fiorano Circuit.[2] As the MCC was developed further, word of the MCS ceased and eventually the final name, MC12, was announced.[2]

The car is based heavily on the Enzo Ferrari, sharing the same Ferrari Dino V12 engine with slight modifications, the same gearbox (but renaming it Maserati Cambiocorsa) and the same chassis and track (length of axle between the wheels).[7] The Maserati MC12 has its own bodywork which is wider, longer and slightly taller leaving the windshield as the only externally visible component shared with the Enzo.[1] This extra size allows for greater downforce across the whole body, adding to that of the two metre spoiler.

Overview

The MC12 is a two-door coupe with a targa top roof, although the detached roof cannot be stored in the car.[1] The mid-rear layout (engine between the axles but behind the cabin) keeps the centre of gravity in the middle of the car, which increases stability and improves the car's cornering ability. The standing weight distribution is 41% front: 59% rear; at speed however, the downforce provided by the rear spoiler affects this such that at 200 kilometres per hour (125 mph), the effective weight distribution is 34% front: 66% rear.[1]

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Interior

Even though the car is designed as a homologation vehicle and is a modification of a racing car, the interior is intended to be luxurious. The interior is a mix of gel-coated carbon fibre, blue leather and silver "Brightex": a synthetic material which was found to be "too expensive for the fashion industry."[8] The centre console features the characteristic Maserati oval analogue clock and a blue ignition button, but it has been criticised for lacking a radio, car stereo or a place to install an aftermarket sound system.[10][12]

Exterior

Maserati MC12

The body of the car, made entirely of carbon fibre, has undergone extensive wind tunnel testing to achieve maximum downforce across all surfaces. As a result, the rear spoiler is two metres (79 in) wide but only 30 millimetres (1.2 in) thick, the underside of the car is smooth, and the rear bumper has diffusers to take advantage of ground effect.[5] Air is sucked into the engine compartment through the air scoop; its positioning on top of the cabin makes the car taller than the Enzo. The exterior is available only in the white and blue colour scheme, a tribute to the America Camoradi racing team that drove the Maserati Tipo Birdcages in the early 1960s.[9][13] The car is noted for the awkwardness that results from its size: very long and wider than a Hummer H2.[12] This, combined with the lack of a rear window, makes parking the MC12 very difficult.[12]

Engine

The MC12 sports a 232 kilogram (511 lb), six-litre (5,998 cc/366 cu in) Enzo Ferrari-derived V12 engine, mounted at 65°.[14] Each cylinder has four valves, lubricated via a dry sump system, and a compression ratio of 11.2:1.[4] These combine to provide a maximum torque of 652 newton metres (481 lbf·ft) at 5500 rpm and a maximum power of 465 kilowatts (632 PS/621 bhp) at 7500 rpm.[4] The redline rpm is indicated at 7500—despite being safe up to 7700—whereas the Enzo has redline at 8200 rpm.[1]

The Maserati MC12 can accelerate from 0–100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) in 3.8 seconds (though Motor Trend Magazine managed 3.7 seconds) and on to 200 kilometres per hour (125 mph) in 9.9 seconds.[1][5][6] It can complete a standing (from stationary) quarter mile in 11.3 seconds with a terminal speed of 200 kilometres per hour (125 mph) or a standing kilometre in 20.1 seconds.[1][6] The maximum speed of the Maserati MC12 is 330 kilometres per hour (205 mph).[6]

The power is fed to the wheels through a rear-mounted, six-speed semi-automatic transmission. The gearbox is the same as the Enzo's transmission (tuned to different gear ratios) but renamed "Maserati Cambiocorsa". It provides a shift time of just 150 milliseconds, and is mechanical with a 215 millimetre (8.5 in) twin plate dry clutch.[5][7][15]

Gear 1 2 3 4 5 6 Final Drive
Ratio[16] 3.15:1 2.18:1 1.57:1 1.19:1 0.94:1 0.71:1 4.10:1

Chassis

The MC12’s chassis is a monocoque made of carbon and nomex, with an aluminium sub-chassis at the front and rear. It has a roll bar to provide additional strength, comfort and safety.[1][9] Double wishbone suspension with push-rod-operated coil springs provide stability and dampers smooth the ride for the passengers.[16] The front of the car can be raised for speed bumps and hills by pressing a button that extends the front suspension.[10] There are two modes for the chassis' tuning which can also be changed with a button in the cabin: Sport, the standard setting, and Race, which features less of the Bosch ASR (Anti-Slip Regulation) traction control, faster shifts and stiffer suspension.[5][17]

Wheels

Maserati MC12 wheel

The MC12 has 480 millimetre (19 in) wheels with a width of 230 millimetres (9 in) at the front and 330 millimetres (13 in) at the rear. The tyres are Pirelli P Zero Corsas with codes of 245/35 ZR 19 for the front tyres and 345/35 ZR 19 for the rear.[13] The brakes are Brembo disc brakes with a Bosch anti-lock braking system (ABS).[16] The front brakes have a diameter of 380 millimetres (15 in) with six-piston calipers and the rear brakes have a diameter of 335 millimetres (13.2 in) with four-piston calipers.[16] The centre-lock wheel nuts that hold the wheels to the chassis are colour coded: red on the left of the car, blue on the right.[1]

Reception

An MC12 that has been re-painted blue.
An MC12 that has been re-painted orange.

The car has generally received positive reviews, but its critics say it is hard to drive, overpriced and too large.[18] Other criticisms include the lack of a trunk, rear window, spare tire and radio, and the way the car's engine was limited or "drugged".[1][7] Current driver for Vitaphone Racing Team Andrea Bertolini, the chief test driver throughout the development, said the car "reacts well and is very reliable in its reactions."[19]

The Top Gear television series acquired an MC12, and test driver The Stig achieved a lap time of 1:18.9 around the Top Gear track—0.1 seconds faster than his lap in the Enzo Ferrari.[20] Host Jeremy Clarkson also drove it, comparing it to the Maserati Biturbo, a car he disliked.[18] Clarkson criticised the car greatly, pointing out that, like the Enzo, it lacks a rear window. He also commented that it is "difficult" due to its size, and "one of the twitchiest cars" he has ever driven, meaning a small action by the driver results in an exaggerated reaction from the car. For these reasons, he promptly renamed the car "The MC Hammer".[18] Regarding the design of a racing car and modification to road standards he said, "Is it a racer? Is it a GT car? Is it a de-tuned Enzo in a fat suit? You can't really tell."[18] Despite his criticisms he did compliment the smooth ride:

This car glides over bumps, the suspension absorbing the roadworker Johnnies’ laziness without transferring a single ripple to the cool blue interior with its Milanese fashion house upholstery.[21]

Motor Trend Magazine reviewer Frank Markus had a more positive opinion. Despite initial skepticism he said, "It turns out that the Enzo makes a more comfortable and attractive road car when made over as a butch Maserati racer in street couture".[1] Markus complimented the stability of braking and the handling ability of the MC12, especially the drifting allowed by the traction control when cornering, commenting that "There's none of the knife-edged limit handling we criticised in the more extreme Enzo. It's even more forgiving at the limit than an Acura NSX."[1]

When Automobile Magazine tested an MC12, reviewer Preston Lerner called it "user-friendly", praising the responsiveness and simplicity of driving.[22] Lerner approved of Frank Stephenson's work with the styling of both the car's exterior and interior, calling the trim "Speed-Racer-ish" but "without looking as though it belongs in a Nitrous-ized Civic".[22] He also complimented the ASR's level of intervention, commenting that it "lets the fun factor get reasonably high before kicking in".[22]

Recently Evo Magazine ran the MC12 at Nordschleife and obtained a 7:24.29 second lap time. This was also the second time an MC12 recorded a faster lap time than its Ferrari counterpart, with the Enzo lapping the track exactly 1 second slower. Both times were set by the same driver, Marc Basseng.

Racing

FIA GT

The Scuderia Playteam car entered in the FIA GT

In 2004 Maserati completed three MC12 GT1 race cars intended for the FIA GT GT1 class.[23] The AF Corse factory-backed squad debuted the race at Imola, yet the FIA did not allow the MC12 to score points due to its debated homologation. Even with this setback, the team managed to take second and third places. At the next round at Oschersleben, the MC12 of Andrea Bertolini and Mika Salo won for the first time. At the final round of the year at Zhuhai, the FIA finally agreed to homologate the MC12s and allow them to score points towards the championship. With this, the MC12 again took victory, allowing it to score enough points to finish 7th in the teams championship.[24][25]

In 2005 Maserati won the FIA GT Manufacturers Cup with 239 points: almost double the score of next team (Ferrari with 125 points).[26] The two teams that entered MC12s into the FIA GT, Vitaphone Racing and JMB Racing, finished first and second respectively in the Team Cup, with Vitaphone winning by a considerable margin.[26] Four of the MC12 drivers were in the running to win the FIA GT Drivers' Title at the Bahrain International Circuit at the start of the final race of 2005: Karl Wendlinger and Andrea Bertolini each on 71 points and Timo Scheider and Michael Bartels on 70. Gabriele Gardel of Ferrari was also on 70 points, however, and in the crucial race he placed ahead of the all of the Maseratis, driving an older Ferrari 550 Maranello. Gardel took the title leaving all of the Maserati drivers within four points of first place (Scheider and Wendlinger receiving four points for the race).[26][27]

A Vitaphone car at Silverstone in the 2006 FIA GT

In 2006 the only team representing Maserati was Vitaphone Racing. On September 30, 2006 Vitaphone secured the Teams' Championship for the 2006 season despite their drivers placing 5th and 7th in the Budapest 500km race with weight penalties of 85 kilograms and 105 kilograms respectively.[28] Bertolini and Bartels also shared first place in the Drivers' Championship on 71 points but the manufacturers cup went to Aston Martin.[29]

Vitaphone Racing again won the GT1 Teams' Championship in the 2007 season on 115 points, followed by fellow MC12 team Scuderia Playteam Sarafree on 63 points.[30] JMB Racing also entered two MC12s, but they were used by amateur drivers competing in the Citation Cup, which was won by JMB's driver Ben Aucott.[31] Maserati also won the Manufacturers' Cup by a significant margin while Thomas Biagi won the Drivers' Championship. Fellow Vitaphone drivers Miguel Ramos and Christian Montanari tied for sixth, while Playteam's Andrea Bertolini and Andrea Piccini were just behind.[30]

For 2008, Vitaphone Racing returns with a pair of MC12s for drivers Andrea Bertolini, Michael Bartels, and Miguel Ramos, as well as newcomer Alexandre Negrão.[32][33] JMB Racing will retain a single MC12 for 2007 Citation Cup winner Ben Aucott and drivers Peter Kutemann and Maurice Basso, although they will not be competing in the Citation Cup again.

Italian GT

MC12s have had great success racing in Italy, and have replaced the GT3 "Maserati Trofeo Light" as Maserati's representative in the Italian GT Championship.[34] In 2005 Maserati introduced two MC12s to the GT1 division under Scuderia Playteam and Racing Box, with the teams placing first and third overall respectively.[35] The cars were re-entered in 2006, with Scuderia Playteam again securing overall victory and Racing Box coming second.[36][37][38] From 2007, GT1 cars are not permitted in the championship, and Scuderia Playteam moved to the FIA GT Championship.

Racing Box also participated in the non-championship 6 Hours of Vallelunga twice, winning in 2005 with Michele Rugolo, Leonardo Maddelena, and Davide Mastracci,[39] then again in 2006 with Pedro Lamy, Marco Cioci, and Piergiuseppe Perazzini.[40]

Super GT

In 2006, the Le Mans winning outfit Team Goh was intending to race a Maserati MC12 in the Super GT series in Japan. However, the team was forced to withdraw because of driver problems (Jan Magnussen falling ill suddenly and returning to Denmark) and disappointing lap times at the Suzuka Circuit during testing.[41] While the car was faster than its Super GT rivals down the straights, it was losing more than a second per lap in the corners due to its poorer aerodynamics.[42]

American Le Mans Series

The Maserati Corse MC12 GT1 at Road Atlanta in 2005.
Doran Racing's MC12 GT1 at Road America in 2007.

In 2004 the Maserati MC12s were unable to compete in series backed by the ACO, such as the Le Mans Endurance Series (LMES) in Europe and the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) because they exceeded both the length and width restrictions for their class.[1] The car's nose was shortened by 200 millimetres (7.9 in) to attempt to comply with regulations, but was still 66 millimetres (2.6 in) too wide. In 2005 the governing body of the ALMS, the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), allowed the MC12s to compete as a guest with the agreement that they were not allowed to score championship points and were forced to run a weight penalty.[13] Some ALMS teams initially objected to the participation of the MC12 due to the possibility that an accident could eliminate their chances at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but the MC12 was finally allowed to race. The ACO stood by their ruling on the car by forbidding it from entering other Le Mans series.

The lone MC12 would be campaigned under the Maserati Corse banner, but run by the American Risi Competizione team. The 2005 American Le Mans Series season was not as successful for the team, with the team scoring no wins. In the final race at Laguna Seca, the MC12 was clipped by a competitor, causing damage that resulted in a lengthy pit stop.[43] After resuming the race, a loss of traction caused by cold tyres made the car hit a kerb, which broke the radiator and took the MC12 out of the race.[43]

In August 2007, Fredy Lienhard and Didier Theys announced their preparation of a former FIA GT MC12 for use in the American Le Mans Series.[44] The car made its debut at Road America, finishing 3rd in the GT1 class after qualifying competitively. The only other race entered was Round 11 at Road Atlanta for the Petit Le Mans where the team failed to finish following an accident, but were still classified second in class.[45] Doran's Maserati however had qualified on the class pole.[46] The team selected Michelin tires instead of the Pirellis originally used by Maserati Corse in 2005,[44] and was also allowed to race with a full-width rear wing instead of the smaller wing used by Maserati Corse and teams in FIA GT, although the wing was not as tall.[47] IMSA also allowed Doran to score points in the American Le Mans Series championships.

MC12 Corsa

Maserati MC 12 Corsa at the IAA 2007

The Corsa is a variant of the MC12 intended for racetrack use. In contrast to the race version of the MC12, of which street-legal versions were produced for homologation purposes, the MC12 Corsa is intended for private use, albeit restricted to the track, as the Corsa's modifications make it illegal to drive on the road.

The Corsa was developed directly from the MC12 GT1, which won the 2005 FIA GT Manufacturers Cup.[48] The car was released in mid-2006, "in response to the customer demand to own the MC12 racing car and fueled by the growth in track days, where owners can drive their cars at high speeds in the safety of a race track", as stated by Edward Butler, General Manager for Maserati in Australia and New Zealand.[49][48] In similar fashion to the Ferrari FXX, although the owners are private individuals, Maserati is responsible for the storage, upkeep, and maintenance of the cars, and they are only driven on specially organized track days. Unlike the FXX, Corsas are not used for research and development, and are used only for entertainment.[50] A single MC12 Corsa has been modified by its owner to make it street-legal.[48]

Only twelve MC12 Corsas were sold to selected customers, each of whom paid €1 million (US$1.47 million) for the privilege. Another three vehicles were produced for testing and publicity purposes.[49][51] The Corsa shares its engine with the MC12 GT1; the powerplant produces 555 kilowatts (755 PS/744 bhp) at 8000 rpm, 90 kilowatts (122 PS/121 bhp) more than the original MC12.[52] The MC12 Corsa shares the GT1's shortened nose, which was a requirement for entry into the American Le Mans Series. The car was available in a single standard color, named "Blue Victory", though the car's paint could be customized upon request.[49] The MC12 Corsa possesses steel/carbon racing brakes, but is not fitted with an anti-lock braking system.[48]

Birdcage 75th

The Maserati Birdcage 75th at the 2006 LA Auto Show.

The Birdcage 75th is a concept car created by automobile manufacturer Maserati and designed by Pininfarina. It was first introduced at the 2005 Geneva Auto Show. It draws inspiration from the Maserati Tipo Birdcages of the 1960s and was made as a celebration of Pininfarina's 75th anniversary.[53] It is an evolution of the Enzo's MC12 cousin.

See also

References

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