348, F355, 360 Modena, 458, 458 Evo, 488 and finally 488 Evo… A little over thirty years after the launch of its one-make competition, Ferrari presented the 296 Challenge, the ninth generation of car entered in its championships. The machine – which will debut next year – was officially presented to the brand’s loyalists during the World Finals of the Ferrari Challenge, contested this weekend on the Mugello circuit (Italy).
- Maranello unveils the new car for its one-make championships
- It is based on the production Ferrari 296 GTB but “de-hybridized”
- For the first time, the engine used in the Ferrari Challenge is a V6
- She will make her competitive debut from spring 2024
V6 and “de-hybridization”
Ferrari 296 Challenge+14
Since its launch in 1993, the Ferrari Challenge has traditionally been devoted to the mid-engined “plombette” in the manufacturer’s range. As is the case on the road, the 296 Challenge is the first in its line to be powered by a V6 instead of the traditional V8.
The machine is in fact powered by the 120° bi-turbo V6 of the 296 GTB. But unlike the production version, it is not assisted here by an electric machine. This simplifies use on the circuit and saves weight. The Challenge thus weighs 140 kg less than the road-going 296 GTB (1,330 kg versus 1,470 kg). Freed from the constraints of approval and the flexibility necessary for use on open roads, the V6 – called F163 internally – here develops 700 hp for 2,992 cm3, or 234 hp per liter (compared to 221 hp per liter on the road ). This higher curve is authorized by a more direct exhaust, the removal of the particle filter and a turbo rotation speed increased by 10%.
Closer to a GT3
Ferrari 296 Challenge+14
Historically, the success of the Ferrari Challenge has been largely based on gentlemen drivers keen to decompress on the circuit. Divided into championships covering four geographical areas (Europe, North America, United Kingdom, Japan) and various levels of experience, this competition is now run by more than 200 drivers each year. But Ferrari is now also targeting young hopefuls abandoning the expensive single-seater to establish themselves professionally in the world of GT.
The textbook case in this area is Nicklas Nielsen. In 2018, at the age of 21, he won the Finali Mondiali contested in Monza. Five years later, the Dane is one of six official drivers entered in the Hypercar category at the wheel of the 499P.
Ferrari therefore sought to bring its model closer to a car meeting the very popular GT3 regulations. The goal ? Make the Challenge a step for drivers wishing to join other competitions.
For this, the work focused in particular on aerodynamics. The level of support is thus 870 kg at 250 km/h compared to around 700 kg on the 488 Challenge Evo. The 296 Challenge also benefits from numerous refinements such as the S-Duct (channel directing the air entering under the chassis at the front towards the roof to balance the air flows). We are very far from the almost “stock” Ferrari 348s of the 1990s…
« The reduction in wheelbase compared to the 488 Challenge Evo (-5 cm, ed.) makes this car more agile in slow corners » specifies Raffaele de Simone, head of Ferrari test drivers. At Mugello, the gain would be 2 seconds per lap, bringing the “Challenges” into a time window ultimately quite close to the less powerful GT3s and more constrained by their balance of performance.
Ferrari still intends to satisfy drivers looking above all for pleasure during race weekends and not to blow up costs: “ We only use carbon where it provides a real performance gainexplains Manuela Cecconi, responsible for the design of non-homologated vehicles at Ferrari. The front cover remains for example in aluminum or the splitter in plastic derivative “. The aerodynamics have also been reworked to simplify the task of pilots in traffic.
If Ferrari does not communicate officially on the subject, the bill would, according to our information, be a little over 300,000 euros excluding taxes, or around half the cost of purchasing a latest generation GT3. Most drivers, however, “rent” their car to a team responsible for operating it during the rounds.
The 296 Challenge will replace the 488 Challenge Evo from 2024 in the European and North American championships. The old car will still be used for the next campaign in the United Kingdom and Japan trophies before the final “switch” to the newcomer.
To sum up
Maranello reveals the new car that will be used from 2024 in the Ferrari Challenge.
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