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Ferrari 458 Challenge (copyright image)

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5th December, 2010

The Ferrari 458 Challenge, the race track version of Ferrari’s newest super car, is making its debut at the Bologna Motor Show (4th-12th December 2010), the unique motor sport and motoring event held just down the autostrada from Ferrari’s home in Maranello.

A blend of motor show and motor sport event that has attracted enthusiasts for 35 years, the Bologna Motor Show has both static car stands and displays, but running through the show is a race track on which cars can be demonstrated and even raced. The event will see 13 different types of track racing events, seven different rally events, eight different motor sport demonstration programmes and it’s even possible to have to have test drives in racing and rally cars – not as a passenger, but behind the wheel – on the race track!

With such an ideal environment, Ferrari has dedicated its display to all its latest motor sport involvements, including Formula One and Sports car racing as well as single make competitions, with the new Ferrari 458 Italia as the major attraction on its stand.

Derived from the 458 Italia, the 458 Challenge is the fifth model used by Ferrari in its single-series racing programme which is split into Italian, European and North American championships and which will be joined next year by the new Asia-Pacific series. With the new 458 Challenge, Ferrari puts an exceptional combination of extreme performance, superb fun behind the wheel and unique driving emotions at the finger-tips of its sporting, professional and gentleman-driver clients.

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Also on the stand is the F430 GTC owned by the AF Corse team, one of the cars with which the Maranello marque won the Constructors’ title in the GT2 class of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup 2010.

Ferrari’s line-up of track models is completed by the FXX and 599XX rolling laboratory cars, each of which has its own research and development programme involving in-depth collaboration between Ferrari technicians and their client test-drivers. At the very centre of the stand is the F60, the single-seater Scuderia Ferrari fielded in the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship season.

A rich and varied programme is planned for the competition arena in Area 48 with the classic end-of-year battle between the drivers of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli, now in its 18th season, dominating the action. No less than 16 cars from the Italian and European series will be taking each other on in a three-round competition on Wednesday 8th December. However, the high point of the programme will be the Formula 1 exhibition with which Luca Badoer will bring his extraordinary 13-year career as the Scuderia Ferrari’s official test-driver to an end. He’ll put an F60 through its paces and a simulated pit-stop, as a farewell homage to the Ferrari tifosi and enthusiasts.


Compared to the 458 Italia, the direct injection 4,499 cc V8 remains strictly in production tune, with an output of 570 hp at 9,000 rpm. That said, modifications have been made to the gear ratios and calibration of its dual-clutch F1 gearbox to guarantee higher torque at lower revs. The 458 Challenge is also equipped with the E-Diff electronic differential already employed on the road-going version, a first for Ferrari's track-only cars.

Significant work has also gone into cutting the car’s weight. This focused on both the exterior and interior with Ferrari’s engineers concentrating in particular on reducing the thickness of the body shell panels and on using lightweight materials, such as carbon-fibre and Lexan.

The new 458 Challenge also has a specific suspension set-up with steel uniball joints, stiffer springs, single-rate alloy dampers, centre-nut 19” forged rims, larger dimension Pirelli slicks and a ride height lowered by 50 mm all round. It is also equipped with the new generation Brembo CCM2 brakes integrated with the latest ABS system which debuted on the 599XX, Ferrari’s extreme experimental laboratory car.

Another first for a Ferrari Challenge model is the adoption of the F1-Trac traction control system, the most sophisticated of its kind. Developed in-house by Ferrari, the F1-Trac system constantly monitors levels of grip for maximum high-performance road-holding. Two specific track-biased calibrations have been developed for this application, with control logics and strategies derived from Ferrari’s extensive racing experience in the F1 and GT championships. The F1-Trac is completely integrated with the E-Diff to guarantee maximum stability and acceleration both into and out of corners.

The ABS/EBD, F1-Trac and E-Diff calibration settings are selected via the manettino on the steering wheel, the first time this solution has been adopted on a model developed for the Ferrari Challenge series. The driver has a choice of three configurations: OFF position (traction control deactivated), position 1 and position 2. The latter two settings have progressively higher levels of control system intervention and are selected in accordance with grip conditions on the track.

In the course of the intensive development sessions involved in honing the 458 Challenge for the track, the engineers also managed to improve the car’s lap time at Fiorano by two seconds over that of its predecessor, resulting in a new record of just 1’16.5”. Equally impressive is the amount of lateral grip the new car generates – up to 1.6G.


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