Having made the move to a turbocharged V8 in the new 488 GTB, Ferrari has unveiled its first ever turbocharged car for its Challenge series. The 488 Challenge is more powerful, has more downforce and uses less fuel than the car it replaces, but perhaps most importantly, it looks drop-dead gorgeous.
It doesn't get all that much publicity, but the Ferrari Challenge series will be celebrating its 25th birthday next year. Founded in 1992, the series serves as a stepping stone to bigger, faster competitions like International GT. Anyone with the money can buy a car and start competing, although not everyone has the talent (or desire) to make the jump to more competitive, professional grades.
Ferrari has designed the 488 Challenge to be more accessible for less experienced drivers. Side Slip Control – a system which tweaks the traction control, stability control and adaptive dampers to make the car more manageable on the limit of grip – is fitted as standard, and helps improve cornering speeds by around four percent alone.
A multi-stage traction control system, controlled by small switches on the steering wheel, can be set up to intervene as soon as slip is detected, or toned down to give the driver more control. For an inexperienced racer on a wet track, this could stop a fun weekend being ruined by a seriously expensive accident.
Power comes from a tweaked version of the turbocharged V8 from the 488 GTB. With 661 hp on tap, and a short-geared dual-clutch gearbox putting power to the rear wheels, Ferrari says the new car will accelerate 11.6 percent harder than the road car out of tight corners. Although that's a strange metric, it essentially means the race car delivers more punch from low revs, and pulls harder to the redline than the naturally-aspirated model it replaces. The new powertrain is also 28 kg (62 lb) lighter than the road-going version it's based on, thanks in part to a redesigned exhaust.
Combined, the new electronics system and punchier powertrain help the 488 Challenge lap Ferrari's Fiorano test track in 1:15.5, making it a full second faster than the car it replaces, and four seconds quicker than the fearsome LaFerrari.
The new 488 Challenge was launched in Daytona, and will make its debut during the first round of the Ferrari Challenge series in 2017. Pricing details haven't been announced.