Getting on Track: Ferrari releases more pics, details on experimental 599XX

Ferrari 599XX – Click above for a high-res image gallery

Road cars have laws to contend with, and racing cars have regulations to uphold. But for track cars, the sky is the limit. Unfortunately for track enthusiasts, purpose-built track cars built from the ground up with a blank sheet of paper and a limitless sky are few and far between. One example comes from Ferrari with its XX-rated development program that creates a series of cars that bridge the gap between road and track. First up was the FXX, an Enzo with some extra kit. That was followed by the even more extreme FXX Evoluzione. But at the Geneva show last month, Ferrari took the wraps off the 599XX, a rolling laboratory based on the 599 GTB Fiorano only unbound by the rules of governing bodies. And while the 599XX's debut was accompanied by only limited details and even fewer photos, Maranello's finally released more of each to salivate over.

Over the course of its ongoing development – that is, after all, the point of the XX programs – the 599XX will receive all manner of new features and technologies. There's even word it may serve as a test bed for the adaptation of Formula One's KERS regenerative braking system for future road cars. But in the meantime, Ferrari's engineers have started with a host of aerodynamic and engine modifications. Added aerodynamic elements abound, some more visible than others. Little black winglets protrude from the C-pillars (which themselves were already aerodynamically optimized on the road car), and the wheels integrate F1-style "donuts" to channel the air for optimized cooling and clean airflow. Underneath the bodywork, a new Actiflow system employs a porous diffuser and two fans in the trunk to channel the airflow for increased downforce at cornering speeds or reduced drag at higher speeds. All that and more adds up to 617 pounds of downforce at 124 mph or 1,389 pounds at 186 mph. Reduced mass inertia in the engine compartment helps the V12 produce 700 horsepower at the XX's stratospheric 9,000 RPM redline, the shift program has reduced gear changes to just 60 milliseconds, and the carbon ceramic brake pads are gripped by experimental carbon-fiber calipers to keep it all under control. All that new tech helps the 599XX lap Ferrari's own Fiorano test track in 1 minute, 17 seconds... faster than any road car the company has ever produced, a tick under the FXX's lap time, and faster than some of the company's modern race machinery. Follow the jump to read more details in the press release, and check out the studio shots in the high-resolution image gallery below.

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While based on the 599 GTB Fiorano with the same transaxle layout and engine type, this prototype is an extreme track car. Ferrari's engineers have carried out extensive work on the engine's combustion chambers and inlet and exhaust tracts. These modifications, combined with the fact that internal attrition has been reduced and the maximum revs have been boosted to 9,000 rpm, helped achieve the target power output of 700 hp at 9,000 rpm. Particular attention was also paid to cutting the weight of the engine unit components. This was achieved both by optimising forms - as in the new crankshaft - and adopting exclusive materials, as in the carbon-fibre used for the intake plenums. A new gearbox shift strategy cuts overall gearchange times to 60 ms.

The 599XX is characterised by an innovative electronic concept called the "High Performance Dynamic Concept" which has been designed to get the maximum performance from the car by managing the combination of the car's mechanical limits with the potential of its electronic controls. The mechanical and electronic systems work together to get the maximum performance from the car under extreme high performance driving, for consistent lap times. The sporty handling has been improved thanks to the adoption of second generation SCM suspension system. Track usage is also made easier thanks to the new "virtual car engineer", a screen in the car that provides a real-time indication of the vehicle's efficiency.

The 599XX's aerodynamics were honed in numerous wind tunnel test sessions with the result that the car now boasts 280 kg of downforce at 200 km/h (630 kg at 300 km/h). The front underside of the body is completely faired-in and the vents that channel hot air from the engine bay have been moved to the bonnet.

The "ActiflowT" system increases downforce and/or cuts drag depending on the car's trim cornering conditions, courtesy of the use of a porous material in the diffuser and two fans in the boot which channel the air flow from under the car out through two grilles next to the tail-lights. Winglets have been added to the rear buttresses to increase downforce. while synthetic jets have also been incorporated into the rear of the car to control and smooth the air flow and to reduce drag.

Ferrari's engineers have also used F1-derived "doughnuts" which partly cover the brake discs and wheel rim. These have the dual function of improving both aerodynamics and brake cooling.

In terms of the bodywork, composites and carbon-fibre have been widely used and the engineers drew on their experience in working with aluminium to reach the weight target. The development of increasingly high-performance materials has also benefited the carbon-ceramic material braking system. The brake pads are now made from carbon-fibre which means that the calipers are smaller whilst guaranteeing the same efficiency. The new racing carbon ceramic braking system also delivers shorter braking distances and is generally more efficient due to the weight saving.

The 599XX comes with slick tyres (29/67 R19 Front and 31/71 R19 Rear) specifically developed to maximise stability in cornering and increase lateral acceleration. They are fitted to 19 x 11J wheel rims at the front and 19 x 12J at the rear.

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