The 35th edition of the Bologna Motor Show in Italy, which runs for the public from December 4 to 12, saw Ferrari lifting the covers off the 458 Challenge, a track-only version of the automakers fiery -no pun intended- supercar. The 458 Challenge boasts a host of upgrades over its road-legal sibling to make it race worthy when it hits the grid in Ferrari's one-make race series from 2011.
While the Challenge keeps the 458 Italia's direct injection 4.5-liter V8 with an output of 570 hp at 9,000 rpm intact, Ferrari's engineers have made modifications to the gear ratios and calibration of its dual-clutch F1 gearbox to further improve torque at lower revs. The 458 Challenge is equipped with the E-Diff electronic differential already employed on the road-going version, a first for Ferrari's track-only cars. Another first for a Ferrari Challenge model is the adoption of the firm's F1-Trac traction control system.
The race-spec model also gets a specific suspension set-up with steel uniball joints, stiffer springs, single-rate alloy dampers and a ride height lowered by 50mm all round. Stopping power is provided by the new generation Brembo CCM2 brakes integrated with the latest ABS system which debuted on the 599XX, Ferrari’s experimental laboratory car, while it rides on centre-nut 19-inch forged rims wrapped in larger dimension Pirelli slicks.
Ferrari says significant work has gone into cutting down the car’s weight with the company's engineers concentrating on reducing the thickness of the bodyshell panels and on using lightweight materials, such as carbon-fibre and Lexan.
The combined result of all these measures is the improvement of 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”. According to the Italian company, the amount of lateral grip the new car generates is 1.6G.
Along with the 458 Challenge, Ferrari is also displaying a variety of other racing models from the past and present at its Bologna Motor Show stand, including a 430 GTC owned by the AF Corse team Ferrari and an F1 model.