When it debuted in 2010, the Ferrari 458 Challenge quickly got to work, obliterating the 1:18 Fiorano lap time set by the amazing FXX just five years earlier. Doing the deed in just 1’16.50, this racing variant of the 458 Italia left no doubt as to its racing pedigree. This Challenge car was the fifth Challenge version of a Ferrari production car, directly preceded by the F430 Challenge.
As with its predecessors, the 458’s track performance was improved on mainly using weight reduction versus increasing the car’s power. Over 150 kilos were shed through the use of thinner aluminium body panels, or by simply replacing them with carbon fibre panels when possible. Of course, all the creature comforts were removed from the cockpit as well. Sit inside the 458 Challenge and you will know you are in a car built with one purpose in mind: all-out track performance. Yes, there will be no coddling of the driver here. Other weight-saving measures include the use of Lexan for the windscreen and rear window, while the luxurious leather seats have been swapped out in favour of fixed-place racing seats with 6-point harnesses.
To lower the centre of gravity and improve handling, the suspension was lowered by 2 inches. The Challenge also received new, 19-inch centre-locking wheels, which help reduce the time it takes to switch them out during pit stops. Carbon-ceramic brake pads and rotors from Brembo give the Challenge extremely consistent brake performance, a necessary feature in a car made to churn out hot laps for hours at a time. Instead of using the full suite of driver’s aids from the 458 Italia, the Challenge’s F1-Trac system gives drivers only 3 settings to choose from: full traction control, medium traction control, and no traction control.
Like most Ferrari Challenge cars, the engine has received very little attention. Still the same 4.5-litre V8 producing 561bhp as in the 458 Italia, the only change made was to the exhaust, which gives the car enough volume to alert people for miles around whenever it takes the track. Luckily for Ferrari fans everywhere, the Challenge tradition would be picked up again by the 458’s successor, the 488.