The Bologna Motor Show in Italy is famous for its head-to-head racing, which draws in thousands of spectators. So Ferrari has a booth at the show devoted entirely to its racing activities plus an intense track program.
The 458 Challenge also makes its world debut at the Bolognese event. It is derived from the 458 Italia and is the fifth model used by Ferrari in its single-series racing program.
The series is currently split into Italian, European and North American championships which will be flanked next year by the new Asia-Pacific series.
Ferrari's line-up of track models is completed by the FXX and 599XX, each of which has its own research and development program involving collaboration between Ferrari technicians and client test-drivers. At the center of the booth is the F60 from the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship season.
A varied program is planned for the show's competition arena, with the classic end-of-year battle between the drivers of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli dominating the action.
No less than 16 cars from the Italian and European Trofeo Pirelli series will be taking part in a three-round competition. However, the high point will be the Formula 1 exhibition, in 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 as a farewell to the tifosi.
Compared to the 458 Italia, the direct-injection 4499cc V8 remains strictly in production tune, with an output of 570hp at 9000rpm.
That said, modifications have been made to the gear ratios and calibration of its dual-clutch F1 transmission 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 but a first for Ferrari's track-only cars.
Significant work has also gone into cutting the car's weight, with Ferrari's engineers concentrating on reducing the thickness of the body panels and using lightweight materials, such as carbon-fiber and Lexan.
The new 458 Challenge also has a specific suspension set-up with steel uni-ball joints, stiffer springs, single-rate dampers, center-nut 19" forged wheels, larger Pirelli slicks and the ride height is lowered 50mm. It is also equipped with the new generation Brembo CCM2 brakes integrated with the latest ABS system that debuted on the 599XX.
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, the F1-Trac system constantly monitors levels of grip for maximum 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 integrated with the E-Diff to guarantee maximum stability and acceleration 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 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.
During the development of the 458 Challenge for the track, the engineers managed to improve the car's lap time at Ferrari's Fiorano race track by two seconds over its predecessor, resulting in a new record of just 1'16.5". Equally impressive is the 1.6G lateral grip the new car generates.