Ferrari's 458 Italia Challenge racer has taken to the track for the first time at Vallelunga. Ferrari test drivers Maurizio Mediani and Jaime Melo each drove the car at the Rome circuit and both were pleased with the V8 racer.
Mediani said the Challenge was “very quick and extremely good fun,” while Melo said he was “sure that Prancing Horse competition owners will be very pleased with this car.”
The 458 Challenge has the same direct-injection, 4.5-liter V8 powerplant as the regular car, producing 562hp at 9000rpm. The gains for track use come through revised gear ratios and recalibration of the 458's dual-clutch F1 gearbox, plus a major push to save weight.
Ferrari has reduced the thickness of the 458's body panels and made greater use of lightweight materials such as carbon fiber and Lexan. The company has declined to quote a weight figure for the new car, however.
The Challenge's chassis setup features stiffer springs, single-rate dampers, 19in. racing wheels, larger Pirelli slick tires and a lower ride height (down by 30mm). It also has Brembo CCM2 brakes, as seen on the 599XX. The new model also gets Ferrari's E-Diff electronic differential and F1-Trac, its traction control system, the first time these setups have been offered on one of the firm's track cars.
Ferrari claims the 458 Challenge can generate lateral forces of up to 1.6g, and that it laps the firm's Fiorano test circuit in 1min 16.5sec – around two seconds faster than the F430 Challenge car.
The 458 Challenge will be the fifth car to compete in the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli; it will take on F430s, 360s, F355s and 348s.