Ferrari 458 Challenge (2010) more official picturesThu, 02 Dec 2010 00:00:00 -0800
This is the new Ferrari 458 Challenge, the latest in a line of racers to emerge from Maranello. It was unveiled at today's Bologna motor show. It's not the first time we've seen the race-spec 458, but they've issued more photos of it.
Ferrari previewed it first at its annual dealer meeting in Italy earlier this autumn. The 458 Challenge is destined to race in the 2011 Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli series. It's the fifth Ferrari designed to race in the Pracing Horse's one-make series.
The new 458 Challenge is a mix of stock 458 Italia and new competition-spec upgrades. The 4.5-litre V8 is road-car legal and develops the same 562bhp at a neck-tingling 9000rpm, but it'll soar to that epic redline more frequently thanks to shorter gearing.
The twin-clutch gearbox is recalibrated to ensure more torque at lower revs, too. But amateur race hands be relieved: the E-DIff electronics remain on hand to curb the worst tail slides on track.
One of the chief differences between the 458 Italia road car and this Challenge racer is a diet, says Ferrari, although it has yet to issue a kerb weight. The bodyshell panels are thinner in most places and much of the glasswork is replaced by Lexan plastic.
The Challenge should corner on the obligatory tramlines, thanks to a thorough overhaul of the already-not-at-all-shabby suspension. Out go the rubber bushes replaced by solid aluminium bushing; the springs are stiffer and dampers recalibrated; the ride is dropped 50mm all round; and Pirelli slicks are fitted to the new quick-release 19in rims.
Brembo's latest CCM2 brakes from the 599XX are donated to the 458 Challenge to wipe off all that speed. And to help you pile the clicks back on, an upgraded F1-Trac traction control system is added with dry and wet settings to put the ponies to the track. Yet more settings on the manettino steering wheel switch to befuddle the driver mid-corner...
Ah yes. Since you asked the 458 Challenge puts in a 1min 16.5sec lap, generating up to 1.6g in the fastest corners. That's two seconds a lap faster than the previous Challenge racer, says Ferrari. To put that in context, even the Enzo lapped in 1min 24.9sec in 2002.
Should be enough to get the professional and gentlemen racers reaching for their chequebooks. Which will need lots of spaces for zeros, as the 458 Challenge is likely to far outstrip the Italia's £169,546 price tag. The 430 Challenge cost around £185,000 (including the first year's race entry fee) compared to the F430's £145,000 price tag.
By Tim Pollard and Richard Jones