When we heard whisperings of a harder, faster, lighter Ferrari 458
rumbling from Maranello, we became somewhat feverish. Was this the successor to
the 430 Scuderia, one of our very favouritest supercars of recent years?
No. This is not the 458 Scuderia, but it is something rather excellent. This is the Ferrari 458 Challenge - a track-only version of the awesome mid-engined machine set to compete in Ferrari's one-make series in 2011.
It is indeed lighter, harder and faster. Though its 4.5-litre V8 puts out the same 562bhp as the road car, the Challenge gets a shorter-ratio gearbox and, most importantly, an intensive diet strategy.
Ferrari won't reveal exactly how much weight the Challenge has lost, but with thinner bodyshell panels and extensive use of carbon fibre and Lexan, we're guessing it's the equivalent of a broad-stomached gentleman racer at least.
The 458's suspension has been thoroughly overhauled, too, with solid aluminium bushings, stiffer springs and a ride height dropped by 30mm. Fat Pirelli slicks and bigger brakes improve stickiness and stoppiness: in fact, the Challenge has already lapped Ferrari's Fiorano circuit in 1m16.5s, two seconds quicker than its predecessor and more than eight seconds quicker than the Enzo. It'll pull 1.6 lateral gs through corners, too.
Enough to keep even the most ardent Ferrarista busy until that 458 Scuderia turns up, then...