Once again Ferrari decided to grace us with another gem from their collection, and where else than on the same weekend event where they showcased one of their special project cars we wrote about – Finali Mondiali! This time it is about a vehicle that is based on the 488 GTB which is supposed to compete in the 2017 season of the Ferrari Challenge one-make racing series.
The guys from Ferrari used the Finali Mondiali event, which by the way indicates the end of Ferrari’s racing efforts for the year and include a final race of the Ferrari Challenge series, to pull the covers off their 488 Challenge race car. This is the sixth vehicle to participate in the competition which by the way in 2017 celebrates its 25th anniversary. It will also be known for one other thing – it is the series’ first turbocharged vehicle.
This one is supposed to replace the ongoing 458 Challenge Evoluzione that has been in the races since 2014 as the most powerful race car of the event to date, but it is long overdue for replacement. The engine that is going to power the 488 Challenge is twin-turbocharged 3.9 L V8, that is practically the same as in the 488 GTB road car and has the peak output “stuck” at 660 HP, but some differences in specific engine mapping allow the 488 Challenge racer to have superior top-end performance. The 7-speed dual-clutch transmission is also the same as in the road car but with few tweaks for best track performance. One of those tweaks that improve this vehicle is reflected for example in shorter gear ratios and a new shift strategy that now allows it to accelerate from a complete halt to maximum revs in 4th gear in just 6 sec. To additionally improve the car’s performance means that the engineers had to shave off overall powertrain weight, with 43 pounds taken off the engine and an additional 18 lb off the exhaust system.
But that is all hiding under the hood and is barely noticeable until you put your foot on the gas pedal. What you actually can see as the biggest change from the road car is the aerodynamics. The front bumper is designed for two purposes – to improve air flow over the radiators while at the same time reduce drag. The splitter and flicks up front were added to aid downforce, and the new hood design with a trio of vents is there to help direct hot air coming off the radiators. Ferrari engineers also had to worry about stability at high speeds and that is why they adopted a new wing with an airfoil similar to one used on Ferrari’s 488 GTE World Endurance Championship race car. Several more changes on the track version differentiate it from the road variant including intakes on the rear hips that now take colder air to the rear brakes and aid downforce. Furthermore, the engine air intakes, now positioned laterally under the rear spoiler, benefit from the high pressure created in this area for an additional boost in performance.
To those who do not know, the 2016 Finali Mondiali took at Daytona International Speedway which was the first time that this event has been held in the United States. There are three classes that make up the 2016 Ferrari Challenge that went to Carlos Kauffmann (Trofeo Pirelli), Sam Smeeth (Pirelli Am) and Thomas Loefflad (Coppa Shell).