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The McLaren has reemerged as a competitive car in the GT3 Series.

The McLaren MP4 12C GT3 has seen its share of ups and downs since its positive reception into iRacing.com a few years ago. In recent months, however, it’s been just short of being completely absent from its current home in the GT3 Challenge Series. With the addition of the RUF RT 12R and, most recently, the BMW Z4 GT3, many drivers found the McLaren was not equally matched in power when compared to its two smaller competitors. As such, many sim-racers parked their McLarens for the much faster (and, as many claimed, easier to drive) BMW which, in turn, completely dominated the racing fields of the GT3 Challenge. Several drivers even coined the term “Z4 Cup” when referring to the GT3 series.

Those days are gone.

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iRacing has brought balance to the forc….I mean GT3 Challenge Series.

With the arrival of Season 3 comes a fresh balance to the GT3 cars which has shown an immediate difference. In the words of James Hunt from the movie Rush, it’s a “Level playing field now, my ratty little friend.” As sim-racers from all around the world headed to Sebring International Raceway for 30 minutes of GT3 racing action, the newly-balanced McLaren saw a podium lockout which also featured several new faces to the GT3 weekly podium. By the end of the sim racing week, it was Dutchman Dave Gelink who brought home the Week 1 victory with 271 championship points.

Gelink started in three separate GT3 online races and, although failing to bring home a win, made it count by coming in second in a Strength of Field (SoF) race of 4407. Although not new to the GT3 series, Gelink drove the RUF for the majority of Season 1 while briefly switching to the BMW in Season 2. Now in the McLaren for Week 1 of Season 3, his combination of driving skill and setup choice paid off in full.

Taking the second step of the Week 1 podium is Patrick Pichler of Austria. Starting in eight separate online GT3 races, Pichler claimed victory three times and earned a cumulative total of 264 championship points. Although Pichler won the same SoF race listed above along with 282 championship points, as per section 3.4.2.1 of the Beginners Guide, “your top 50% point scoring races are averaged together to get your total points for the week.” Regardless, Pichler has emerged as a dominant force early on in the GT3 series. Pichler is also not a new member of the GT3 community as he began back in Season 1 with the RUF. Later switching to the McLaren in the same season, Pichler has remained committed to the MP4 ever since.

Taking the final step of the podium for the Week is William Levesque from Quebec, Canada. Levesque started in two separate online races and finished in the top-five in both events. Also racing in the above mentioned SoF race, Levesque finished third to claim 261 championship points for the week. Although he is relatively new to the GT3 Challenge Series, Levesque is no stranger to victory and has given himself an excellent start to the season with his podium finish.

Congratulations to our Week 1 victors!

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With a level playing field, the competition is now extremely close.

As we head into Week 2, the iRacing.com GT3 Challenge Series continues its visit in the United States with a stop at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. A track which many iRacers are familiar with, this 2.23 mile road course is located in Monterey, California and features a single configuration of 11 various turns. Most notable is The Corkscrew: a blind downhill left-to-right hand turn which plunges you towards the sweeping left turn of Rainey Curve. One of the most hazardous aspects of the track is the Turn 2 “Andretti Hairpin” which all of the cars pile into at the start of the race. Historically, this turn has seen many major incidents and has ended many races early for several drivers. Dangerous but challenging, we look forward to seeing all of the action unfold as we charge deeper into Season 3.

Be sure to follow iRacingNews as we follow all of the action of the 2014 Season 3 iRacing.com GT3 Challenge Series!

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