Good news for GT drivers. Hot on the heels of the new 585hp McLaren Artura Trophy we just talked about, Ferrari has announced its successor to the 488 GT3. It’s the 296 GT3, unsurprisingly. This is a new concept designed to meet the demands of teams and riders, whether professional or gentlemen racers. Ferrari says its new car has been “meticulously designed down to the smallest detail and from every angle, in accordance with the new GT3 regulations”.
Predictably, the 296 GT3 removes the electrical element from the 296 GTB’s powertrain. This is not in accordance with the current technical regulations of the competition. Its 120-degree V6 engine is still hidden amidships and produces 600 hp. It has the same firing order and V-shaped turbos as the road car, and also uses the packaging advantages of GTB’s new V6. This means its engine mounts and intake manifolds remain integrated into the cylinder heads to reduce the size and weight of the V6 compared to 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 goal was not only to offer competitive performance, but also the handling for “Sprint” and “Endurance” races. Low fuel consumption and high reliability were also key objectives, along with ease of repair should something go wrong. An example is the alternator. It is now integral with the gearbox to improve the compactness and rigidity of the assembly and facilitate access for race mechanics.
The gearbox is specially developed by Xtrac. It uses high-end materials (the casing is made of magnesium) and miniaturization to reduce weight and improve performance. It’s a six-speed gearbox with electrically operated gear changes and its gears mounted transversely, to help with aerodynamics at the rear of the car and weight distribution. The clutch is a single disc which is also operated electronically – from a paddle behind the steering wheel instead of a mechanical pedal.
It’s a pretty drastic step up in aero over the road car, as you’d expect, but also the 488 GT3. The job of the aerodynamicists was to design a package that not only produced more downforce, 20% more than the 488 GT3, but also made it a more stable aerodynamic platform. It’s a car that isn’t too sensitive to ride height, for example, and that results in a better-balanced car that’s easier to set up and drive. The assembly is also designed to produce minimal drag and good sliding potential in races.
The aluminum chassis is completely new and lighter at 1,250 kg dry. This means the car is underweight, so there is plenty of opportunity to place ballast around the car to help with handling and tire wear. The wheelbase is longer (2,660mm) than the road car and the suspension design is completely different from that of the 488 GT3 with better mechanical grip thanks to its double wishbone layout. It also has the widest range of adjustments possible and it is easier to make changes in the pits. Parts are also faster to replace. Ferrari claims the front and rear bodies can be swapped in seconds. The braking system has also been revised, notably with new calipers and 400 mm discs at the front. Rotiform have produced an all new homologated wheel forged specifically for the 296 GT3.
Testing and development progressed from initial CFD simulations and simulator models, to wind tunnel work and engine bench tuning and endurance testing in Maranello’s 4WD Dyno. The car’s first on-track shakedown was at Fiorano in April this year, and it has since completed tens of thousands of test miles. It will enter the track for the first time at the 2023 24 Hours of Daytona.
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