Since the formation of Ferrari’s international Challenge racing series for clients in 1992, the series has hosted over 1000 races over three continents. Ahead of the 25th anniversary of the challenge, the Italian OEM has introduced an all-new race car.
The 488 Challenge is the first ever turbo-charged model to race and is the most powerful Challenge car ever, powered by the 660hp 3.9-liter V8 derived from the series production engine that took the overall 2016 International Engine of the Year Award from Professional MotorSport World’s sister magazine, Engine Technology International.
Ferrari says that thanks to ‘extensive development’ of the car’s engine, aerodynamics and chassis, the 488 Challenge has chopped a second off the Fiorano lap time of the preceding 458 Challenge EVO, setting a new record of 1’15.5″.
Compared to the production 488 GTB V8, the Challenge’s powertrain features revised engine mapping, and shorter gear ratios providing up to an 11.6% increase in acceleration out of turns compared to the naturally-aspirated 458 Challenge EVO. The F1 DCT transmission features a new ‘racing shift’ strategy which enables the car to accelerate from a standstill to maximum revs in 4th gear in just six seconds. Further improvements include a reduction in overall powertrain weight, with 19.7kg being taken from the engine and a further 8.5kg from the exhaust system.
Ferrari’s patented Slip Slip Angle Control software makes its first ever appearance on a Challenge car, improving the longitudinal acceleration through bends by 4.2%. A further significant development is the decoupling of the manettino function regulating the electronic vehicle dynamic controls. Rather than a single manettino intervening on all aspects of the software, the functions have been separated into two, either side of the steering wheel. The right-hand manettino (TC1) governs the level of intervention required based on the levels of grip, while the left-hand one (TC2) controls the degree of intensity of intervention.
Externally, the car features a heavily developed aerodynamics package, honed by Ferrari’s race engineers who worked closely with the Ferrari Styling Centre. The front radiator layout was reworked, inverting the rake so that they are now inclined towards the rear. This solution improves the air flow over the radiators in racing conditions whilst, at the same time, reducing drag. The new layout required new extraction vents at the bottom of the bumper ahead of the wheels.
The front bumper itself has been completely redesigned with a more pronounced splitter and canards to increase downforce and balance the rear load, for a claimed ‘7% improvement in efficiency’ compared to the 458 Challenge EVO.
The front bonnet is all new with triple vents and integrated flaps to direct the hot airflow from the radiators rearwards. To increase stability at high speeds, the 488 Challenge features a larger rear wing, with an air foil similar to that used on the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship-winning 488 GTE, which alone increases efficiency by 9% compared to the 458 Challenge EVO.
The intakes on the rear flanks now take cooling air to the rear brakes, optimising downforce, while the engine air intakes are now positioned laterally under the rear spoiler, taking advantage of the high pressure generated in this area.