Ferrari and their out-of-house tuning firm, Michelotto, have wrapped up their initial development for the new Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am and have begun testing the vehicle on the Fiorano Circuit. If the name for this new racer doesn’t give it away, the 458 Italia Grand Am was produced as the first factory-sanctioned Ferrari to compete in the Grand-Am’s Rolex Sports Car Series GT class under the current GT rules.
The Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am is based on the GT3 version of the V8-powered Ferrari Berlinetta. The difference between the new 458 Grand Am model and the European version is that the Grand Am develops a total of 500 HP (and not 470 HP like other 458 Italia racing cars) at maximum revs of 8000. Slowing the North American Grand Am down is a 48 mm restrictor and less efficient aerodynamics than the GT version. Compared to a standard 458 Italia, the Grand Am model features a revised braking system (since the car is lacking ABS and traction control) and a roll-over bar which gives greater lateral protection thereby increasing safety. The car is fitted with tires from the Grand Am series’ sole provider, Continental.
UPDATE 12/06/2011: Ferrari has confirmed that their 458 Italia Grand Am will be making its world debut at the Daytona 24 Hours, which takes place from January 26-29, 2012 at Florida’s Daytona International Speedway. The 458 Grand Am will be crewed all year by Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip, North American Rally Champion, Travis Pastrana, and two endurance race veterans, Rui Aguas and Robert Kauffman.