Test Drive Tuesday review #32: 2010 Maserati MC12 GT1
There’s no denying that the Maserati MC12 road car was designed specifically with GT racing in mind. When Maserati decided to return to racing in the early 2000’s, they decided to take it as a full commitment towards victory, even if that meant slightly scorching the spirit of GT racing. The MC12 was basically a Ferrari Enzo with a more aerodynamically efficient body and less concerns over road use. And sure, it does look the part: it’s extremely wide, low, and that long tail gives it the look of a Le Mans racer. No wonder then that officials and competitors were reluctant to allow it to race against other regular GT1 cars, and that the first few races the MC12 GT1 took part in were shadowed by controversy. But as soon as it was fully accepted, it began winning. And it took the end of GT1 racing to stop it. It won six consecutive teams’ championships, six drivers’ championships and two constructors’ championships, all between 2005 and 2010. Quite a war machine.
It’s easy to understand why it was so competitive when you drive it.
First, there is that Ferrari-bred racing V12. I mean, when are we going to see a racing V12 again? With the way things are going, probably never. But from a driver standpoint (and as a spectator, of course!), this big NA V12 is just amazing. I’ll never say it enough, but big naturally aspirated engine, and especially V12s make better power than anything else. Not necessarily more or more efficiently, but better: there is torque everywhere you look, but the delivery is very smooth, very controllable. It’s never going to spin for no apparent reason because you just were on that particular spot on the rev range where there’s a big spike in torque. The massive power is usable to the point where shortshifing becomes a joy rather than a necessity. And of course there’s the noise. This engine sounds like it’s powered by dinosaurs! Which actually isn’t totally inaccurate.
I expected the engine to be that good. I didn’t expect the car to feel that good, though. Sure, it’s not as efficient and capable as the Honda HSV GT500. But the MC12 GT1 feels so right. To me, it’s right on the sweet spot where I can be on it without crashing all the time, but it will take all of my attention. It’s not a car that’s trying to kill you; it doesn’t have any nasty reactions. Everything happens because of something you did, and when you understand the basic rules of the game, it’s just glorious. The rear comes around a bit too quickly under braking to my liking, but it’s something that can be easily fixed within a few minutes in the pits. The nose though, is absolutely brilliant. If there is a hint of understeer (because you’re coming in too hot, not because of the car), simply lift off and the front axle will go exactly where you want it to.
Overall, the car feels deliciously playful, because the mechanical vs aero balance is just right. The car’s attitude is easily adjustable at all times, but on the other hand it doesn’t feel too easy. You still have to do the driving, and that’s very rewarding. And also, it’s very fast. Officially the fastest GT car I’ve tested so far, though the GT500 cars are only a few tenths behind on most tracks, especially the slower ones.
This, or an HSV GT500 then? Ideally both. If you can’t, well here’s your choice: the sweetest handling and overall more competent racer on one side, a magic V12 and a lot of charisma on the other. Your call.
To find out how it did against all the other TDT cars, follow this link to the updated TDT Leaderboards: https://goo.gl/ATr6mF