The 2024 Ferrari Challenge race series will introduce its ninth-generation machine, based on the 296 GTB.
The finale of the 2023 Ferrari Challenge one-make series concludes at Mugello Circuit later this month, marking the end of the line for the Ferrari 488 Challenge racer. Initially launched in 2017 before an Evo overhaul in 2020, the model has now run its course, and its new Ferrari 296 Challenge successor is gearing up for a debut in the 2024 season, as the ninth model in the series’ history.
While based on the 296 GTB road car, it shares a number of elements with its highly successful GT3 racecar sibling, making it a promising replacement for the 488 Challenge car.
Set to make its public debut on the eve of the Finali Mondiali event this month, the 296 Challenge drops the hybrid assistance of the road car for a less complex, pure-combustion approach. As opposed to the 3.9-litre V8 of its predecessor, it features the same 3-litre 120-degree turbocharged V6 as the GTB road car (and 296 GT3, for that matter), sending 500kW to the rear wheels.
Ferrari says the model has been designed with both performance and consistency in mind, applying similar solutions to those found in the 296 GT3 launched last year – given that car’s incredible success in the likes of the Nürburgring 24 Hours, this is no bad thing.
While it has omitted the trick hybrid system of the road car, the marque has also applied cutting-edge tech from the road car, including the ABS EVO Track system for improved braking performance in racing conditions.
Overall design isn’t as extreme as the dramatically sculpted, high-downforce GT3, but the Challenge features plenty of track-specific upgrades on its exterior nonetheless. A pair of canards, a more aggressive splitter, rear wing, side skirts and diffuser all contribute to a peak downforce figure of 870kg at 250km/h, the highest of any Ferrari Challenge car so far. Unique front and rear bumpers, a vented bonnet and a meshed rear bumper similar in style to that found on the 296 GT3 are also present for cooling.
Chassis changes haven’t been disclosed, but a complete geometry overhaul is clear to see, with the bespoke wheels sat further into their arches and a significant helping of negative camber. Each car will also be fitted with a set of new 19-inch Pirelli tyres developed specifically for the Challenge model. In addition to the ABS EVO Track system, new CCM-R PLUS brake discs are also said to improve braking performance and consistency for those long stints on track.
Ferrari hasn’t revealed a weight figure, but with standard glass, unnecessary interior gubbins and the hybrid system removed, expect a figure much lower than the 1470kg (dry) kerb weight of the road car.
The new Ferrari 296 Challenge will be unveiled on October 23 ahead of the 2023 Finali Mondiali at Mugello Circuit, with first cars set to hit the track next year in the Europe and North America series.