The Ferrari 458 Challenge, the latest Maranello road car to racecar transformation, has just been revealed at the Annual Dealer Meeting. Of course, the Challenge version is heavily based on the already mighty 458 Italia, which has been drawing praise the world over since its launch.
To make the 458 that little bit better on the track Ferrari’s engineers have played with the gear ratios to offer more low down torque, even though the road car’s standard engine and 425kW remains. The E-diff from the standard car also makes its way onto the Challenge meaning it is the first Ferrari wearing this badge to be fitted with such technology. Similarly, the most recent traction control technology from Ferrari, F1-Trac, has also been fitted to a Challenge for the first time.
A weight loss program has been employed through the use of thinner body panels. Other lightweight materials such as carbon fibre and lexan have been used as well. The Challenge sits 30mm lower than the Italia and runs on 19″ alloys with Pirelli slicks.
Apparently prospective 458 Challenge owners are “professional and gentlemen drivers alike” and they’ll be pleased to know they will be able to race their new toys in the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli series from 2011. They also have a new target time of 1:16.5 at Ferrari’s Fiorano test track; two seconds faster than the F430 Challenge.
458 Challenge debuts at Maranello
Maranello, July 14th 2010 â€“ The 458 Challenge has made its world premiere debut in Maranello during the Annual Dealer Meeting, a traditional event that brings together the representatives of Ferrariâ€™s international sales network.
The new berlinetta, which will flank the F430 Challenge in the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli in the 2011 season, is the fifth model used by Ferrari in its one-make championship which, next year, will be extended to include a new Asia-Pacific series.
Coming just a few months after the Frankfurt Motor Show unveiling of the 458 Italia on which it is based, the 458 Challenge introduces a number of important modifications to adapt it for competition use.
The direct injection 4497 cc V8 remains strictly in production tune, with an output of 570 hp at 9,000 rpm. That said, modifications have been made to 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 Ferrariâ€™s track-only cars.
Significant work has also gone into cutting the carâ€™s weight. This focused on both the exterior and interior with Ferrariâ€™s engineers concentrating in particular on reducing the thickness of the bodyshell panels and on using lightweight materials, such as carbon-fibre and Lexan.
The new 458 Challenge also has a specific suspension set-up with solid aluminium bushings, stiffer springs, single-rate dampers, centre-nut 19â€ racing rims, larger dimension Pirelli slicks and a ride height lowered by 30mm all round. It is also equipped with the new generation Brembo CCM2 brakes which debuted on the 599XX, Ferrariâ€™s extreme experimental laboratory car, and which are integrated with an ABS system that features two configurations – low grip and high performance for dry surfaces.
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 â€“ wet and dry – have been developed for this application, with control logic and strategies derived from Ferrariâ€™s extensive racing experience in the F1 and GT championships. The F1-Trac is completely integrated with the E-Diff to guarantee maximum acceleration out of corners.
The required ABS, 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 can thus either chose from the WET or DRY configurations. In high grip conditions it is also possible to select CT-OFF to de-activate the F1-Trac traction control.
In the course of the intensive development sessions involved in honing the 458 Challenge for the track, the engineers also managed to improve the carâ€™s lap time at Fiorano by two seconds over that of its predecessor, resulting in a new record of just 1â€™16.5â€. Equally impressive is the amount of lateral grip the new car generates â€“ up to 1.6G.
With the new 458 Challenge, Ferrari is offering its sportier clients – professional and gentlemen drivers alike – a car that is extremely responsive, with great performance and superb handling. This mid-rear V8-engined berlinetta will allow Ferrari Challenge participants to enjoy to the full the exhilarating cut and thrust of the race weekends on the worldâ€™s leading circuits, as well as the passion that has always been an integral part of Ferrariâ€™s one-make championship.