Ferrari has officially unveiled the 458 Challenge racing prototype that will compete in the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli in the 2011 season. The model is based on the 458 Italia, but introduces a number of important modifications to adapt it for competition use.
As the fifth Ferrari model to be used by the company in its single-series racing program, the 458 Challenge takes the reins from the Ferrari 430 Challenge beginning in the 2011 season.
Among many things, the car’s V8 engine remains the same with the production version. But to make it ready for the racing environment, Ferrari gave the 458 Challenge important modifications to the gear ratios and calibration of its dual-clutch F1 gearbox.
With the departure of the 430 Challenge and the arrival of its 458 counterpart, it signals a changing of the guard in Ferrari’s one-make racing series, one that should make the 458 Challenge the new face of the Ferrari Challenge.
UPDATE 05/03/2011: Marchettino is at it again and this time he has caught multiple Ferrari Challenges during a private test session at the Misano racetrack. Watch the video after the jump to hear the engine’s sound at over 155 mph!
Hit the jump for the full details on the 458 Challenge plus a couple of videos and galleries!
Exterior and Interior
To ensure that the 458 Challenge is fit and spry for race competition, significant work was done into cutting the car’s weight. This focused on both the exterior and interior with Ferrari’s engineers concentrating in particular on reducing the thickness of the bodyshell panels and on using lightweight materials, such as carbon-fiber and Lexan. The car also has a specific suspension set-up with solid aluminum bushings, stiffer springs, single-rate dampers, center-nut 19” racing rims, larger dimension Pirelli slicks, and a ride height lowered by 30mm all round. It also comes with new Brembo CCM2 brakes, a material that was first used on the 599XX.
The Ferrari 458 Challenge comes with a direct injection 4.5-liter V8 engine that’s the same one found in the production version with the engine producing an output of 570 horsepower at 9,000 rpm. On that note, 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 production version of the 458, a first for Ferrari’s track-only cars.
Another first for a Ferrari Challenge model is the adoption of the F1-Trac traction control system, the most sophisticated of its kind. Developed exclusively by Ferrari, the system constantly monitors levels of grip for maximum high-performance road-holding. Likewise, two specific track-biased calibrations – wet and dry - have been developed for this application with the control logic 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 acceleration out of corners.
The price tag for the 458 Challenge has yet to be announced, although you’ll almost certainly need to reach for your checkbook to get a piece of one. Knowing what we know, the Ferrari 430 Challenge sold for £185,000 a pop, which was about $300,000. That number is significantly higher than the £145,000 - about $235,000 - price tag the F430 came in. Seeing as the 458 Italia retails for £169,546 - around $275,000 - then you can expect to see the 458 Challenge’s asking price be higher than that.
The Ferrari 458 Challenge will compete in the 2011 Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli. Since the series uses a single model from the manufacturer’s road car range that has been modified for competition, the 458 Challenge will have no other competition than itself. Over the years since it began in 1993, the Ferrari Challenge has seen a number of production Ferraris turned into race-spec machines, including the Ferrari 348 Challenge (1993–1995), the Ferrari F355 Challenge (1995–2000), the Ferrari 360 Challenge (2000–2006), and most recently, the Ferrari F430 Challenge (2006-2011).
Race-spec version of the 458 Italia
Lighter = Faster
Looks to die for
Very expensive to say the least
Illegal on public roads
Not everybody can use it