2016 Ferrari 488 GTE
With more than 250 outright and class wins since its introduction in 2011, the Ferrari 458 is arguably Maranello’s most successful race car to date. Although still competitive as of 2015, the 458 will be replaced starting next year by track-prepped versions of the 488 GTB. These were revealed at the Ferrari Challenge Finali Mondiali (World Finals) in Mugello, Italy, as the 488 GTE and 488 GT3.
Like its predecessor, the 488 GTE will compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series, and the Tudor United SportsCar Championship. There’s no word as to what teams will be using the Ferrari in North America, but Risi Competizione is likely the only factory-backed team to field 488 GTEs in 2016.
Maranello confirmed that the 488-based race car will make its official debut at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January. Both the GTE and GT3 cars will be built for four years. Michelotto, which builds the chassis for both vehicles, hopes to sell at least 150 units until 2019.
"This car’s not easy task is to open a new cycle, after the extraordinary one of the 458 Italia, one of the winningest cars in Ferrari’s history. We worked hard on it and continue to do so, because our objective is to have a high performance car that is also easy to drive, as the 458 Italia was,” said Antonello Coletta, Ferrari’s Manager of GT Sport Activities.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Ferrari 488 GTE.
2016 Ferrari 488 GTE
0-60 time:3 sec. (Est.)
Top Speed:205 mph (Est.)
The 488 GTE is a road-going sports car on steroids, featuring a comprehensive aerodynamic package
Much like its predecessor, the 488 GTE is a road-going sports car on steroids, featuring a comprehensive aerodynamic package that includes revised lower fascias, a vented front hood, and a massive rear wing. Up front, notable differences from the 488 GTB include redesigned air inlets, which are shorter and narrower, a big carbon-fiber splitter, and side-mounted carbon-fiber canards. The front hood has also been reshaped to include more vents, which have been placed toward the windscreen.
Modifications continue onto the sides with flared fenders, aerodynamic side mirrors, race-spec skirts, and lightweight racing wheels wrapped in competition rubber. Unlike the 488 GT3, which received vertical splitters in its engine intake vents, the GTE has the same horizontal splitters as the road-going GTB. The rear end remained familiar thanks to the taillights, spoiler, and part of the bumper, but the diffuser is larger and closer to the ground. As with most GTE-spec race cars, the 488 GTE also features a big wing for improved downforce.
Of course, the GTE ditched the factory paint in favor of a multi-color livery. The presentation model combines the red, white and green of the Italian flag with metallic blue and yellow, and a laundry list of sponsor names and logos. I don’t know about you, but I like my Ferraris with a livery as they belong on the race track.
I’m sure Enzo would be proud of the 488 GTE.
We have yet to see the 488 GTE’s interior, but since the FIA’s regulations are essentially the same for 2016, it’s safe to assume that the cockpit is a stripped out version of the 488 GTB’s. The dashboard and the door panels should be the only features retained from the road-going car, with everything else redesigned for the race track. Highlights should include an Alcantara-wrapped, multi-function steering wheel, a new center stack packed with button, knobs, switches, and gauges, a display in place of the instrument cluster, and a race-spec bucket seat with a six-point harness. As requested by the FIA, the 488 GTE is equipped with a full roll cage and a fire extinguisher.
Ferrari had very little to say about the 488 GTE’s drivetrain, only confirming that the race car is motivated by "a turbocharged engine and transverse gearbox, for a more even distribution of the weight." Based on FIA regulations for the GTE series, which specify that the engine must be used in a production car, this means that power comes from the 488 GTB’s force-fed, 3.9-liter V-8, a brand-new unit that pumps an impressive 660 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque in the road car.
The engine inside the GTE has received many modifications compared to the road-going unit for enhanced reliability during endurance events
Of course, the engine inside the GTE has received many modifications compared to the road-going unit for enhanced reliability during endurance events. The transmission is most likely a six-speed sequential unit operated via paddle shifters.
Output should sit lower compared to the standard mill, as power is governed to comply with GTE regulations based on the car’s curb weight, which is also lower than the production 488’s. Under the new regulations for the 2016 season, the cars will have a 20-horsepower increase and 33-pound weight reduction, equating to a two-second per lap decrease in times at Le Mans. While horsepower figures are unknown, according to the new rules the 488 GTE could tip the scales at a minimum 2,711 pounds.
Unlike the GT3 series, which is contested by at least eight manufacturers, the GTE class has fewer nameplates on the grid. One of them is the BMW Z4 GTLM, which finished second in the standings in both the European Le Mans Series and the United SportsCar Championship in 2015. Introduced in 2013, the Z4 GTLM is also based on its street-legal counterpart, but, unlike the 488 GTE, it uses a V-8 engine from another road-going BMW, as one of the very few exceptions made by the governing body.
Find out more about the BMW Z4 GTLM here.
A favorite among professional and gentlemen racers, the 911 RSR competes in both Europe and North America. Even though it didn’t have a successful season in the United SportsCar Championship and the European Le Mans series in 2015, the 911 RSR is still fighting for the manufacturers’ title in the World Endurance Championship as of November 2015 — sitting only four points before Ferrari with one round to go. The current model was unveiled in 2013 and uses a 4.0-liter, inline-six engine rated at around 500 horsepower.
Read more about the Porsche 911 RSR here.
Launched at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, the Corvette C7.R was developed alongside the road-going Corvette Z06 to replace the Le Mans-winning C6.R. The racer borrows most of its design cues from the C7-generation ’Vette, while making use of an updated, 5.5-liter V-8 engine. The C7.R made its debut on the track in early 2014 and raced a full season in the United SportsCar Championship. The two cars fielded by Corvette Racing scored four wins and one additional podium in the GTLM class, finishing the season in third place, behind Porsche and Dodge, but above BMW and Ferrari. In 2015, Corvette Racing also scored a third-place finish, this time behind Porsche and BMW, with two wins and three more podiums. The 488 GTE and the C7.R will meet in the United SportsCar Championship and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Find out more about the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R here.
Given that the 458 GT2 (GTE) is still competitive, Ferrari might seem crazy in their attempt to replace it with the 488 GTE, but the move makes a lot of sense. The 488 GTB is a significant improvement over the 458 Italia and all this development should make the GTE a better race car than the GT2. Sure, many parts used in the GTE have little in common with the 488 GTB, but knowing Ferrari, the road-going sports car was developed with racing in mind as well, and the GTE is a natural evolution. It’s hard to draw a conclusion at this point as the 488 GTE has a big pair of shoes to fill, but the 2016 racing season is just around the corner and the first races should tell us more about what this new track car is capable of. But, by the looks of things, Porsche, BMW, and Chevrolet have plenty of things to worry about before Daytona.