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Ferrari 458 Italia Challenge – Click above for high-res image

The 458 Italia, like any other roadgoing Ferrari, draws its inspiration and development from the Scuderia's considerable racing prowess. Turning the 458 back into a racing car, then, is an extra special feat – one to which Maranello is well accustomed, from the Challenge versions of the 348, 355, 360 and 430 that came before. The new race car will run alongside the F430 Challenge as part of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo next year, the latter of which is also getting a new Asia-Pacific series for 2011 as well.

While the Challenge car maintains the production 458's 5.5-liter V8 drivetrain, it has gone on a substantial diet that includes thinner body panels comprised of Lexan and carbon-fiber. Ride height has been dropped for circuit duty by 30mm, and the Challenge also gets its own suspension bits and setup with stiffer springs, dampers and aluminum bushings. Center-lock 19-inch racing wheels are banded in slick Pirelli tires, and the whole gorgeous Italian parade reins to a halt with Brembo CCM2 carbon-ceramic brakes from the 599XX. In other big news, the 458 Challenge receives F1-Trac electronics that makes use of specific programs that help set the car up for both wet and dry conditions.

All of this information arrives on the heels of the initial spy shots and the video that followed, with Ferrari having issued an official statement (available after the jump) and the image above. In addition, a small batch of photos have crept their way onto the Teamspeed forums, apparently from the vehicle's official unveiling in Maranello. You can check them out at the gallery below.

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[Sources: Ferrari, Teamspeed.com]

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458 Challenge debuts at Maranello

Maranello, July 14th 2010 – The 458 Challenge has made its world premiere debut in Maranello during the Annual Dealer Meeting, a traditional event that brings together the representatives of Ferrari's international sales network.

The new berlinetta, which will flank the F430 Challenge in the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli in the 2011 season, is the fifth model used by Ferrari in its one-make championship which, next year, will be extended to include a new Asia-Pacific series.

Coming just a few months after the Frankfurt Motor Show unveiling of the 458 Italia on which it is based, the 458 Challenge introduces a number of important modifications to adapt it for competition use.

The direct injection 4497 cc V8 remains strictly in production tune, with an output of 570 hp at 9,000 rpm. That said, modifications have been made to the gear ratios and calibration of its dual-clutch F1 gearbox to guarantee higher torque at lower revs. The 458 Challenge is also equipped with the E-Diff electronic differential already employed on the road-going version, a first for Ferrari's track-only cars.

Significant work has also gone into cutting the car's weight. This focused on both the exterior and interior with Ferrari's engineers concentrating in particular on reducing the thickness of the bodyshell panels and on using lightweight materials, such as carbon-fibre and Lexan.

The new 458 Challenge also has a specific suspension set-up with solid aluminium bushings, stiffer springs, single-rate dampers, centre-nut 19" racing rims, larger dimension Pirelli slicks and a ride height lowered by 30mm all round. It is also equipped with the new generation Brembo CCM2 brakes which debuted on the 599XX, Ferrari's extreme experimental laboratory car, and which are integrated with an ABS system that features two configurations - low grip and high performance for dry surfaces.

Another first for a Ferrari Challenge model is the adoption of the F1-Trac traction control system, the most sophisticated of its kind. Developed in-house by Ferrari, the F1-Trac system constantly monitors levels of grip for maximum high-performance road-holding. Two specific track-biased calibrations – wet and dry - have been developed for this application, with control logic and strategies derived from Ferrari's extensive racing experience in the F1 and GT championships. The F1-Trac is completely integrated with the E-Diff to guarantee maximum acceleration out of corners.

The required ABS, F1-Trac and E-Diff calibration settings are selected via the manettino on the steering wheel, the first time this solution has been adopted on a model developed for the Ferrari Challenge series. The driver can thus either chose from the WET or DRY configurations. In high grip conditions it is also possible to select CT-OFF to de-activate the F1-Trac traction control.

In the course of the intensive development sessions involved in honing the 458 Challenge for the track, the engineers also managed to improve the car's lap time at Fiorano by two seconds over that of its predecessor, resulting in a new record of just 1'16.5". Equally impressive is the amount of lateral grip the new car generates – up to 1.6G.

With the new 458 Challenge, Ferrari is offering its sportier clients - professional and gentlemen drivers alike - a car that is extremely responsive, with great performance and superb handling. This mid-rear V8-engined berlinetta will allow Ferrari Challenge participants to enjoy to the full the exhilarating cut and thrust of the race weekends on the world's leading circuits, as well as the passion that has always been an integral part of Ferrari's one-make championship.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'ts not packing 458 HP, it's packing around 560 HP
        • 4 Years Ago
        YIKES!!! Glad you corrected me on that! Thats really something, considering its low weight... Thanks!!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      They put a black roof on the wrong car.

      They should have kept the roof rails red on the 599 GTO.

      They should have blacked out the entire roof of this car.

      And it still has that stupid front end. with the weird, softly styled intake, and the badly mis-fitting gill slits inboard of the boring vertical headlights.

      458 is not what a Ferrari should look like, even if everything under the aesthetics is fantastic... And lack of a 6MT option is not good for Ferrari, either.
        • 4 Years Ago
        That black-roof 458, from the rear-quarter side, not seeing the front end... the car almost looks good.

        glossier black (I am not a fan of flat black on a car) on the roof, and BBS CH-R wheels, and a complete front-end re-style, and the car might actually look decent.

        The C=pillar joint to the rear fender, at the trailing point of the rear quarter window is still a bit high off the ground, making the rear fender bodywork look thick, but that is a smaller issue than the 458's front end.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Yep this car looks funny in photos. probably the most overstyled and artsy ferrari to date.

        I'd probably appreciate it more if I seen it in real life though.
        • 4 Years Ago
        A 599 GTO can be ordered with a color matching roof...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Beautiful....can't wait for the 458 Italia Scuderia!
      • 4 Years Ago
      lol@AB and their proofreading abilities.

      It's a 4.5L V8, not a 5.5L.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Haha right? 458....4.5L, 8 cylinders. It's even in the name guys!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Autoblog MASSIVE FAIL OMGZ.
      • 4 Years Ago
      why cant the rear be as sexy as the f430 equivalent? boo.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Way too many stickers on a nice car.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Totally agree.....takes away from it beauty.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You 2 show me a high level race car without stickers, I'll agree with both of you.

        Until then, this is a race car. It is NOT a road car. Stop looking for reasons to not like the car.
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