How many race drivers have you heard describe their stint in a ‘road car’ as, “..quite possibly the most fun I’ve ever had driving”? Well that’s precisely what 2008 McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Of The Year, Alexander Sims, said after climbing out of a MP4-12C road car at the Dunsfold Park track.

As part of an induction programme for the 2012 season, a trio of McLaren GT drivers including Rob Bell, Alvaro Parente and Alexander Sims were given the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the latest MP4-12C sports car at the ‘figure-of-eight’ circuit, better known for its starring role as the BBC Top Gear test track.

I actually think I might have been quicker than ‘The Stig’ on the day…

Even though McLaren’s 12C GT3 race car shares its V8 twin-turbo engine and carbon ‘MonoCell’ chassis with its road car sibling, the drivers were awestruck that a car, almost as quick as their race car, could be driven on the road.

Rob Bell said: “Driving the 12C on track was a special opportunity and one that helped us learn a lot about the way McLaren develops its cars. I had a huge grin on my face because unlike any other sports car I have driven, it lacks nothing on track.

It is easy to drive very fast and very safely. I want to find the quickest way around a circuit in any car I drive, and the value of technology like Brake Steer and the 12C’s Airbrake is absolutely clear to me. I actually think I might have been quicker than ‘The Stig’ on the day…”

McLaren are gearing up for a full season of racing in the Blancpain Endurance Series, German VLN series, ADAC GT Masters, British GT championship, French FIA GT1 Championship and FIA GT1 World Championship, with a total of 25 cars built for the year.

The 12C GT3 will also compete in the famous 24 Hour Nürburgring endurance race in May, plus 24-hour races at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and Circuit de Catalunya in Spain.