Ferrari will mark 25 years of its international Challenge racing series in 2017 with the introduction of its most powerful car yet: the 488 Challenge.
Since launching in 1992, the Ferrari Challenge racing series has racked up more than 1,000 races with the involvement of over 1,000 drivers.
It has proved to be a great platform for drivers looking to compete in international GT and prototype championships, and a significant number of these racers have gone on to triumph in Grand-Am, IMSA, the FIA World Endurance Championship and the gruelling 24 Hours of Le Mans.
So what about this new car then?
Well, it is the first turbocharged model to appear in the racing series and apparently, the quickest Challenge car ever.
It uses a 3.9-litre V8 unit, derived from the series production engine which claimed the overall 2016 International Engine of the Year Award in the 488 GTB. In that car, it produced a phenomenal 660bhp at 8,000rpm and 760Nm torque at 3,000rpm.
No official word of how tuning has increased that power output, but the 488 Challenge can hit maximum revs in fourth gear, just six seconds after setting off.
The car also completed a lap of Ferrari’s Fiorano circuit in the record time of 1min 15.5secs – a whole second quicker than the 458 Challenge EVO it replaces.
To achieve this more potent performance, Ferrari has carried out specific engine mapping – optimised for racing performance – and shortened gear ratios of its seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
However, the biggest difference between the 488 Challenge and the production car is on a visual level.
The front radiator layout has been reworked, inverting the rake so that they are now inclined towards the rear. This improves airflow over the radiators in racing conditions and reduces drag. This new layout required new vents to be added at the bottom of the bumper in front of the wheels.
The front bumper has been completely redesigned with a more pronounced splitter and flicks to increase downforce and balance the rear load, for a seven per cent improvement in efficiency compared to the 458 Challenge EVO.
We’ll get to see what the car can do when it starts its first Challenge race in Daytona on January 28th.