Ferrari 296 GT3 replaces 488 racer

Good news for GT racers out there. Hot on the heels of the new 585hp McLaren Artura Trophy car we’ve just reported on, Ferrari has announced its successor to the 488 GT3. It’s the 296 GT3, unsurprisingly. This is a new concept built to meet the requirements of teams and drivers – both professional and gentlemen racers alike. Ferrari says its new car has been ‘meticulously designed in every detail and from every angle, in compliance with the new GT3 regulations.’

Predictably, the 296 GT3 does away with the electrical element of the 296 GTB’s powertrain. That isn’t compliant with the current competition technical regulations. Its 120-degree V6 engine is still lurking amidships, though, and produces 600hp. It has the same firing order and hot-vee turbos as the road car, and also utilises the packaging benefits of the new GTB’s V6. This means its engine mounts and intake manifolds remain integrated into the cylinder heads to reduce the V6’s size and weight compared with the 488’s V8.

Ferrari says its engineers worked to fine-tune the engine’s internal fluid dynamics and the specific components it uses in the track version’s power unit. The aim was not only to offer competitive performance, but also the driveability for both ‘Sprint’ and ‘Endurance’ races. Low fuel consumption and strong reliability were also key targets, along with ease of repairs if something does go wrong. One example of this is the alternator. It’s now attached to the gearbox to improve the unit’s compactness and rigidity and make it easier for the race mechanics to access.

The gearbox is specially developed by Xtrac. It uses premium materials (the casing is magnesium) and miniaturisation to keep weight down and improve performance. It’s a six-speed ‘box with electrically operated shifts and its gears mounted transversely, to help with aerodynamics at the rear of the car and weight distribution. The clutch is a single-disc that’s electronically actuated as well – from a paddles behind the steering wheel instead of a mechanical foot pedal.

It’s a pretty radical step up on in aero from the road car, as you’d expect, but also the 488 GT3. The job for the aerodynamicists was to design a package that not only produced more downforce, which is 20 per cent higher than the 488 GT3’s, but also to make it a more stable aero platform. That’s one that isn’t overly sensitive to ride height, for example, and results in a better-balanced car that’s easier to set up and drive. The package is also designed to produce minimal drag and good slip-streaming potential in races.

The aluminum chassis is entirely new and lighter at 1,250kg dry. This means the car is underweight, so there’s plenty of scope to place ballast around the car to aid the handling and tire wear. The wheelbase is longer (2,660mm) than the road car’s and the suspension design is completely different to the 488 GT3’s with more mechanical grip from its all-round double wishbone arrangement. It also has the widest possible range of set-ups and it’s easier to make changes in the pits. Parts are quicker to replace, too. Ferrari says the front and rear bodywork can be swapped in a matter of seconds. The braking system is revised as well, including new calipers and 400mm discs at the front. Rotiform has produced an all-new, forged homologated wheel specifically for the 296 GT3.

Testing and development has moved from initial CFD simulations and simulator models, wind tunnel work and engine bench tuning and endurance tests in Maranello’s 4WD Dyno. The car’s first track shakedown was at Fiorano in April this year, and it’s since completed tens of thousands of kilometers of testing. It’ll hit the track first time at the 2023 Daytona 24 Hours.

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