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Under the Hood: Tips and Tricks to Driving the McLaren 720S GT3

An iconic name in the world of motorsport, McLaren’s 720S GT3 has always been much-beloved in Assetto Corsa Competizione. Woking’s fastest GT racer, a step up from the McLaren 570S GT4 which we also have setups for on all tracks including the British GT Pack and recently-released American tracks, is now up on its jacks as we look Under the Hood of this fan-favourite.

Introduction to the McLaren 720S GT3

The McLaren 720S GT3 joined the illustrious GT3 roster in 2019, taking over as Woking’s stalwart from the ageing 650S GT3. Powered by a 4-litre V8 engine planted right in the middle of the car, this car is a born-and-bred racer.

Clocking in at 4,664mm long and with a 2,696mm wheelbase, the car has a greater overhang at the front than it does at the rear. This evens out the weight distribution on the car which, as we will get into later on, is one of the greatest strengths of the 720S GT3.

The Basic Car Setup

As a mid-engine car with a relatively even weight distribution, there is a lot that a driver can do when setting up the 720S GT3. The car typically runs well with a lower rake, for example, where the difference in ride height between the front and the rear of the car is relatively even. However, if you are looking to set the car up for changeable conditions or for greater stability, you can raise the rear ride height and create some rake. You can then decrease the angle of the rear wing slightly as well, which means that you won’t be compromising on straight-line speed or cornering grip to any major degree.

The main strength of the McLaren is its aerodynamic efficiency. It rewards a smooth driving style and, thanks to it being designed with the gentleman Amateur driver in mind, it can also be set up in a way that adapts it to the style of any other driver. Whilst it is at its fastest while driven like other mid-engine cars, with pinpoint accuracy and staying on the smooth stuff, it can be set up to be driven more like a front-engine car that likes riding kerbs or a rear-engine car that likes to take a slide through compressions.

As a result, the McLaren 720S GT3 is a car which becomes an entirely different beast with a bespoke setup applied to the car. We have a real variety of setups available here at Coach Dave Academy for the GT World Challenge and Intercontinental GT Challenge here, as well as set up for British GT circuits and the recently-released American circuits that all feature our brand-new CDA3 philosophy. You can read more about that in our announcement for our all-new ACC setup subscription service.

Aerodynamics and Bodywork

The key to understanding the McLaren 720S GT3 is understanding how the aerodynamics work on the car. A sleek mid-engined design means that the car is very aerodynamically-efficient, which allows it to corner almost unlike any other car in Assetto Corsa Competizione

The aerodynamic prowess of the 720S is amplified with good use of the rake on the car. Rake is created when the rear of the car is higher than the front of the car. The McLaren can run well at low-rake settings, where the aerodynamic balance can help keep the car planted and turning at higher speeds compared to its rivals. 

At the same time, if you are looking for a high-speed setup, you can create a low rake effect whilst also reducing the rear wing angle. In turn, the McLaren can be quite versatile in the two ways you can set it up.

Overall, the McLaren is one of the strongest cars at high speed, whether that’s high-speed cornering or straight-line speed. 

Steering and Cornering

The 720S’ most significant strength is its cornering ability. The McLaren has an excellent turning circle with excellent weight distribution and a mid-engine platform. This, coupled with running well on a low-rake setup, means that the 720S can keep a consistently high speed at medium-speed and high-speed corners. Compared to other cars such as the offerings from Mercedes-AMG and Aston Martin, the 720S enjoys tracks such as those on the British GT circus as well as the handling-dependent corners of Spa-Francorchamps and Watkins Glen.

However, there is a trade-off between having strong high-speed and medium-speed performance. This is in lower-speed corners, where the 720S often struggles with turn-in and can’t carry the same kind of speed as a Bentley or a BMW. This is further compounded by an inherent weakness over kerbs, which means that any driver has to adapt their driving style for the 720S around tracks such as Kyalami. It’s an incredible challenge, one that many choose to take up as the McLaren has routinely proven to be a fan-favourite car and even more so since the release of Version 1.8.

Power Delivery and Braking

A 4-litre V8 engine placed in the centre of the McLaren 720S GT3 allows the car to get good traction out of corners. Whilst this is especially the case in medium-speed and high-speed corners such as Donington Park’s Old Hairpin, it can also be the case at the exit of some lower-speed corners. Whilst the 720S doesn’t convincingly outrun its rivals in a straight line, its ability to get up to its top speed as well as the ability of the car to run at higher speeds through the corners means that the McLaren packs more than a mighty punch.

Perhaps the hardest thing to get used to with the McLaren is its braking efficiency. Thanks to its superior aerodynamics, the 720S GT3 is incredibly susceptible to changes in aerodynamics. Braking distances are often slightly longer than other cars such as the Nissan GT-R GT3, a distance that increases more when in the slipstream of another car compared to if you are in the tow whilst behind the wheel of the Ferrari 488 GT3 EVO

Need any Extra Help?

Here at Coach Dave Academy, we’re always open to supporting you on your sim racing journey. On top of our comprehensive setup subscriptions for Assetto Corsa Competizione and iRacing, we offer a variety of Coaching sessions to help you get those extra tenths and seconds out of the car. Starting at $40 for our data-driven coaching and going up to $100 for our standout one-on-one coaching, this is an offer that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

On our other platforms, such as YouTube, you can also watch our live setup sessions (such as one we did recently for the 720S GT3 at Watkins Glen) and our onboard laps for our setups (such as our 720S GT3 onboard at Spa-Francorchamps).

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