The Ferrari 488 GTE and GT3 were both introduced in time for the start of the 2016 racing season, however Ferrari’s Challenge client racing series was still piloting a 458-based racecar. That will no longer be the case in 2017, with Ferrari debuting the all-new 488 Challenge at the recent Finali Mondiali event at Daytona.
The 488 Challenge is the sixth-ever Ferrari Challenge racecar and the first turbocharged one. It uses the same 661 horsepower 3.9-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine as the roadcar, however it has been lightened by 19.7 kg (43.3 lbs). Another 8.5 kg (18.7 lbs) has been shaved from the exhaust system via lightweight metals.
The transmission is the same dual-clutch in the roadcar, however it has been optimized for racing with performance mapping and shorter gear ratios. As a result, the 488 Challenge will accelerate out of turns 11.6% faster than the 458 Challenge EVO and can accelerate from a standstill to maximum revs in 4th gear in just six seconds.
The racecar is also equipped with Ferrari’s Side Slip Angle Control software, which helps with longitudal acceleration through corners and taps into the vehicle’s electronic dampers to level the suspension through corners. It also features a special traction control system that is controlled via two dials on either side of the steering wheel. The right hand manettino controls the level of traction intervention required based on grip, while the left side controls the intensity of the intervention.
Perhaps the most radical change over the 458 Challenge is the 488 Challenge’s aggressive aerodynamics. Ferrari raked the front radiators and reworked the front bumper, applied a triple-vented hood with integrated flaps and applied large rear intakes to cool the brakes and optimize downforce and tacked on a massive rear wing, of course. Large engine air intakes were also worked into the rear bumper to take advantage of the high-pressure zone the rear wing creates.
The 488 Challenge is a full second faster than the 458 Challenge Evo around Ferrari’s Fiorano test track, setting a lap time of 1:15. It will take to the track for the first time early next year when Ferrari’s 2017 Challenge season (its 25th ever) kicks off in late January.