Ferrari seems to be pushing boundaries once again with its decision to ditch the hybrid elements in the V6 powertrain for the 296 Challenge. Instead, they’ve amped up the power output of the twin-turbo V6 to a whopping 700 cv. Not only does this change limit the car’s weight, but it also simplifies the whole mechanism – a crucial move for track applications.
Following these changes, there’s a redesigned exhaust line, and it’s interestingly situated at the top section of the engine bay. This new design brings about a 30% reduction in back pressure, contributing immensely to the power increase.
And while they’ve scrapped the Gasoline Particulate Filter (GPF) from the standard road model, they’ve kept the catalytic converter often seen in racing. Comparing this to the standard road engine, Ferrari has made some smart tweaks to utilise the lower back pressure.
They’ve bumped up the turbo speed, leading to an impressive 37 cv power boost from the road models. To accommodate the V6’s power surge, additional thermal protection has been integrated into the engine bay. With the removal of hybrid elements, Ferrari introduced an air-con compressor and a 12-volt starter motor.
Ending the power train section on a high note, the 296 Challenge boasts a record 234 cv/l specific power output for a road-based Ferrari. This move reinforces how vital the transfer of technology is from the racetrack to our roads and vice versa.
Unprecedented Vehicle Dynamics
Braking systems are the unsung heroes of racing cars. Ferrari’s 296 Challenge introduces the innovative CCM-R PLUS brake discs, surpassing any other carbon-ceramic brakes seen in the racing arena. These discs are built using long carbon fibres, promising improved durability and an unmatched thermal conductivity.
The 296 Challenge further evolves the ABS EVO brake-by-wire control system for track usage. Together with the CCM-R PLUS discs, the braking system offers unparalleled deceleration performance.
Furthermore, the vehicle now sits on new Pirelli tyres. After nearly a year of research and multiple test loops on various international circuits, these tyres promise enhanced grip, reduced wear and consistent performance during races.
Ferrari’s main goal with the 296 Challenge’s aero development was clear: derive maximum downforce. They’ve cleverly applied knowledge from the 296 GT3, leading to outstanding downforce figures. The careful balance achieved ensures agility and predictability during high-speed runs.
Multiple adjustments, from modifying the cooling system layout due to the removal of hybrid elements to redesigning the rear bumper, showcase Ferrari’s dedication to perfection. Their attention to the minutiae, such as optimising the brake ventilation ducts and adjusting the rear spoiler for diverse circuits, demonstrates a mastery of aerodynamics.
The 296 Challenge can generate a staggering 870 kg of downforce at around 155 mph.
Cockpit and Safety Overhauls
Inside the 296 Challenge, the cockpit is designed for optimal race experience, drawing inspiration from Ferrari’s single-make series and GT racing. The steering wheel design, derived from the Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo, promises improved ergonomics.
Other enhancements include a central control layout, air-con vents, and a seat that prioritises comfort. In terms of safety, an intricate roll cage design adheres to the FIA racing standards.
For those looking to personalise their experience, Ferrari offers optional equipment. Whether it’s introducing a passenger seat for coaching sessions, fitting an LTE antenna for race marshal communications, or integrating silencers for quieter race tracks, Ferrari has it all.
Making its Mark in the Ferrari Challenge
Race enthusiasts, mark your calendars! The 296 Challenge will be hitting the tracks in 2024, gracing the Europe and North America series of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli. UK and Japan series fans will have to wait a bit longer for its debut in the subsequent season.
In conclusion, Ferrari’s 296 Challenge demonstrates the marque’s relentless commitment to innovation, blending race technology with road vehicle developments. The future of racing seems to be in safe hands with Ferrari at the helm.