Ferrari 458 Challenge, the race-spec version of the beautiful Italian supercar, make its world debut at the 35th Bologna Motor Show. This stripped-out track-only 458 will be used as the official car of the Ferrari Challenge racing series from 2011, and will also spawn different GT versions for endurance series.
The beauty of Ferrari single-series championship, currently split into Italian, European and North American championships which will be flanked next year by the new Asia-Pacific series, is that it’s for gentlemen drivers who rather spend their weekends doing motorsport than pointlessly cruising their yachts!
The 458 Challenge is the perfect tool for this job. The direct injection 4499 cc V8 remains strictly in production tune, with an output of 570 hp, but this lightened version comes with modifications in terms of the gear ratios and calibration of its dual-clutch F1 gearbox to guarantee higher torque at lower revs. The 458 Challenge is also equipped with the E-Diff electronic differential already employed on the road-going version, a first for Ferrari’s track-only cars.
Just like the road-going 458, all the controls that the driver would need are located on the steering wheel. That’s fine in a racing car, but in the street car it causes a bit of an issue to be honest!
The precise engineering work along with the 458’s swell looks make it a proper joy to drive, and it’s doubly awesome if you can also race it! Here’s more technical details on the car:
The new 458 Challenge also has a specific suspension set-up with steel uniball joints, stiffer springs, single-rate alloy dampers, centre-nut 19” forged rims, larger dimension Pirelli slicks and a ride height lowered by 50mm all round. It is also equipped with the new generation Brembo CCM2 brakes integrated with the latest ABS system which debuted on the 599XX, Ferrari’s extreme experimental laboratory car.
Another first for a Ferrari Challenge model is the adoption of the F1-Trac traction control system, the most sophisticated of its kind. Developed in-house by Ferrari, the F1-Trac system constantly monitors levels of grip for maximum high-performance road-holding. Two specific track-biased calibrations have been developed for this application, with control logics and strategies derived from Ferrari’s extensive racing experience in the F1 and GT championships. The F1-Trac is completely integrated with the E-Diff to guarantee maximum stability and acceleration both into and out of corners.
The ABS/EBD, F1-Trac and E-Diff calibration settings are selected via the manettino on the steering wheel, the first time this solution has been adopted on a model developed for the Ferrari Challenge series. The driver has a choice of three configurations: OFF position (traction control deactivated), position 1 and position 2. The latter two settings have progressively higher levels of control system intervention and are selected in accordance with grip conditions on the track.
In the course of the intensive development sessions involved in honing the 458 Challenge for the track, the engineers also managed to improve the car’s lap time at Fiorano by two seconds over that of its predecessor, resulting in a new record of just 1’16.5”. Equally impressive is the amount of lateral grip the new car generates – up to 1.6G.