Ferrari has introduced the 296 Challenge, set to make its inaugural appearance in the 2024 season of the Ferrari Challenge during the Finali Mondiali event at the Mugello Circuit. This remarkable addition marks the ninth model in Ferrari’s storied history of its single-make championship, which has now entered its 32nd season.
The 296 Challenge represents a significant advancement for Ferrari’s single-make series. The ongoing improvement in the quality and competitiveness of drivers participating worldwide has allowed the 296 Challenge development team to implement more radical changes to the original model than in the past. This evolution leverages Ferrari’s extensive motorsport experience.
While still rooted in the tradition of cars designed for gentlemen drivers, the 296 Challenge draws heavily from the knowledge gained through its racing counterpart, the 296 GT3 and caters to drivers aspiring to venture into GT racing.
The philosophy behind the Ferrari 296 Challenge called for a transformation in the concept of the Ferrari Challenge competition model. It transitions from a production-derived car with modest modifications to a vehicle with significant revisions optimized for track use. This paradigm shift has enabled the design team to create a model that, in many respects, pushes the boundaries, setting new standards for performance, consistency, and repeatability during test sessions and races.
One of the most notable features of the 296 Challenge is its V6 engine, marking the first time a car in the single-make series deviates from the V8 engines used in previous models. In line with the development of the 296 GT3, the hybrid powertrain has been removed to reduce weight, while power output has been increased to 700 cv, setting a segment record for specific power output at 234 cv/l. In the realm of aerodynamics, the 296 Challenge adopts solutions from the 296 GT3, taken to new extremes, resulting in unprecedented downforce figures.
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This achievement owes much to elements like the S-Duct, which channels air into the central radiator and directs it through a vent on the bonnet, the swan-neck rear wing layout, and various devices enhancing downforce stability under different conditions. The braking system has been entirely redesigned with the introduction of CCM-R PLUS discs, employing technology inspired by the most extreme track applications. Together with an ABS EVO Track tuned for the circuit and purpose-built Pirelli tires, the 296 Challenge clocks a record time at Mugello, outpacing its predecessor, the 488 Challenge Evo, by 2 seconds.
In terms of powertrain, the hybrid components have been removed from the V6 engine, boosting its output to 700 cv. Several modifications to the engine’s performance include an increased maximum speed of the turbos, greater turbo boost pressure, and advanced spark advance. These changes result in a 37 cv power increase compared to the road-going 296 GTB, with consistent torque output. The vehicle’s specific power output of 234 cv/l sets a new record for a road-derived Ferrari.
The braking system sets a new standard with the adoption of CCM-R PLUS brake discs, featuring cutting-edge technology for enhanced durability and thermal conductivity. The ABS EVO brake-by-wire control system, specifically designed for track use, further elevates braking performance. New Pirelli tires, developed for the model, contribute to these improvements.
Aerodynamically, the 296 Challenge builds upon the 296 GT3’s innovations, delivering impressive downforce figures. Notable features include the S-Duct, brake ventilation ducts, and vortex generators. The downforce generation over the rear axle comes mainly from the adjustable-angle fixed wing. In total, the 296 Challenge generates 870 kg of downforce at 250 km/h, an 18% increase compared to the 488 Challenge Evo. The car’s aero design prioritizes both performance and driveability, ensuring it remains responsive and predictable at high speeds.
The cockpit maintains the ergonomic design of the Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo steering wheel with certain enhancements, such as relocating the engine rev LED bar to the digital instrument display. The central tunnel’s control layout has been updated for improved accessibility, and the circular air-con vents offer optimal airflow adjustability. The roll cage adheres to international FIA racing standards.
Optional equipment includes a passenger seat for coaching or guest enjoyment, an LTE antenna for marshaling and communication, and exhaust silencers for tracks with noise level restrictions.
The Ferrari 296 Challenge will make its debut in the 2024 season in Europe and North America for the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli. The car is the ninth model introduced in the Ferrari Challenge series, which has evolved over the years, encompassing various iconic models. Finally, the technical specifications of the 296 Challenge include details about its V6 engine, dimensions, brakes, transmission, electronic controls, and more.