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Ferrari 488 Challenge debuts for race series' 25th anniversary

The Ferrari Challenge is a race series that allows (very wealthy) amateur drivers to strap into a race car and compete on some of the world’s best tracks. To keep things equal, drivers all use the same car. It’s a format also used by Porsche and Lamborghini for their adrenaline-seeking customers.

Ferrari used its Finali Mondiali (World Finals) end-of-year motor sports celebration in Daytona Beach, Florida, to unveil its latest Challenge car. The 488 Challenge will begin racing next year, becoming the sixth Ferrari model in the series. Just as the 488 GTB road car replaced the 458 Italia, the 488 Challenge race car replaces the 458 Challenge.

The 488 Challenge uses the same 3.9-liter, turbocharged V8 as the 488 GTB road car. That makes it the first turbocharged Challenge car ever. Ferrari says it’s also the most powerful Challenge car ever, although it didn’t say how much power the race car actually produces. The 488 GTB is rated at 660 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque.

Compared to the 488 GTB, the 488 Challenge uses different engine mapping, and has shorter gear ratios for its dual-clutch transmission. Ferrari says the race car can go from a standstill to maximum revs in fourth gear in just 6.0 seconds. Ferrari also re-calibrated the 488’s electronic driver aids, even adding a two-phase control system for the traction control. One knob on the steering wheel allows the driver to set when the system will intervene, and a second regulates the aggressiveness of intervention.

Ferrari also gave the 488 Challenge a more aggressive aerodynamics package inspired by the 488 GTE, a race car built with professionals in mind. The 488 Challenge has a different hood and front bumper, reworked front and side vents, and a massive rear spoiler, among other changes. Ferrari says the 488 Challenge laps its Fiorano test track faster than the previous 458 Challenge Evo, with a recorded time of 1 minute, 15.5 seconds.

The Ferrari Challenge celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2017. Since 1992, over 1,000 races have been run, and over 1,000 drivers have competed, according to Ferrari. The automaker notes that some drivers from this amateur series have gone on to compete in in IMSA and FIA World Endurance Championship races, and even the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
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