After a hiatus of 37 years, Maserati longed to return to top flight motorsport. With help from the friends in Maranello, the MC12 was produced, the fastest Maserati road car to date.
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After a lengthy spell away from competing in top-level motorsport, Maserati looked to make a storming return at the turn of the millennium. With Giorgio Ascanelli, the manufacturer looked to develop a car that could be eligible to compete in the FIA GT Category.
During development, the car was known under two codenames. The racing concept was known as the MCC (Maserati Corse Competizione) and the road going version, the MCS (Maserati Corse Stradale.) which were to be developed simultaneously. Regulations at the time required at least 25 road going vehicles to be produced in order to homogenate a model into the championship.
Frank Stephenson, who was the director of Ferrari-Maserati Concept Design at the time worked on the body styling, but the original idea stemmed from an idea by Giorgetto Guigiaro. He had thought of a design during the initial wind tunnel testing. The MCC development car was very similar to what would eventually become the MC12, with the rear spoiler being the real main difference.
Andrea Bertolini was the official test driver for the MCC project, but it was also known that then Scuderia Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher tested the MCC prototype, having driven the prototype numerous times at Fiorano.
During the development process, the MCC name was eventually dropped and the car would take up the name MC12, the MC standing for Maserati Corse as like the original name, with 12 referring to the number of cylinders in the engine. 25 cars were produced in 2004, with another 25 in 2005, adding to a total of 50 road going versions of the Maserati MC12. On top of that, a further 12 cars were produced for racing, meaning only a total of 62 MC12’s were ever produced. It remains the fastest road going car to be produced by Maserati.
Enzo Ferrari Similarities
The MC12 is heavily based on the Enzo Ferrari, which was developed in 2002. Both cars shared the same chassis, track and gearbox, while the front windscreen is the only real notable external component that both cars share.
The two cars also share the same 6.0-L M144A V12 engine, although the variant found in the MC12 was tuned differently to that of the Enzo Ferrari. The Maserati MC12 boasts better aerodynamics and a lower drag efficient thanks to the rear spoiler and a smoother, sharper body style, but the Enzo Ferrari is known for having the higher top speed, quicker acceleration, and shorter braking distance.
On the famed BBC show Top Gear, the Maserati MC12 set a lap time of 1:18.9 around the test track in 2005. It beat the Enzo Ferrari by one tenth of a second to claim the top spot of the Power Laps leader board.
FIA GT Championship
Maserati constructed three MC12’s for use in the GT1 category in 2004, to instant success. The factory-backed AF Corse squad debuted the car at that season’s round in Imola taking second at third at the circuit, while the car won at its second attempt at the following round at Oschersleben.
While ongoing investigations by the FIA into the car due to rumors that Maserati had not met the homologation quota of 25 road-going vehicles, the car was ineligible to score points. At the final round in Zhuhai, the FIA finally agreed to homologate the MC12, with the car winning again to take seventh in its debut championship year.
From 2005 to 2009, the MC12 dominated the team's championship in the series, taking home five consecutive titles in that time. While original test driver Andrea Bartolini also took three driver’s titles in the car alongside German driver Michael Bartels. In 2010, the MC12 continued in the FIA GT1 World Championship, again winning the drivers and teams titles, but narrowly losing out to Aston Martin in the Manufacturers Cup.
The MC12 also saw massive success in Italy, with Scuderia Playteam winning both Italian GT titles with the car in 2005 and 2006 while the Racing Box team finished in third and second in those respective years. With GT1 cars no longer being allowed for the 2007 season, Scuderia Playteam moved on to the FIA GT1 championship.
The MC12 also was also used in the Super GT series in Japan as well as the American Le Mans series, but issues with regulations as well as the differences in the other competing cars of these series saw limited success outside of the GT1 category for the MC12.
Maserati MC12 Versione Corse
The MC12 Versione Corse was a track derived version of the MC12 that was available to be purchased by customers. Much like the Enzo-based Ferrari FXX, Maserati would keep and maintain the cars, with the owners then being invited to drive the car during dedicated track days.
Only 12 versions of the MC12 Versione Corse were produced, while another three were produced for testing and promotional purposes. The engine found in the MC12 Versione Corse was the same as that from the MC12 GT1 race car, which produced 120 bhp more than the standard MC12.
The original colour for the MC12 Versione Corse was known as ‘Blue Victory’ but the colour of the car could be changed by request of the owner.
Written by Cóilín Higgins.