Ferrari 488 GT3 - Evolution of a Successful Story
Ferrari 488 is a sports car produced by the Italian sports car manufacturer Ferrari. It was used in many racing competitions all over the world, from the FIA World Endurance Championship and some other international series (IMSA SportsCar Championship, Blancpain GT Series) to the many national GT championships. Ferrari 488 GT3 and GTE racing versions had their debut during the season 2016.
Desirable supercars converted into brutal race cars
The GT3 and GTE versions of 488 are based on the street-legal production model 488 GTB, that had its world premiere at 2015 Geneva Motor Show, as a successor of the 458 Italia. The 4.5L naturally aspirated V8 engine was replaced by 3.9L twin-turbocharged V8 engine. That means that every cylinder has a capacity of 488cc.
Race cars have fewer horsepowers than 488 GTB road version
The engine in the basic version of 488 GTB produces 670 hp at 8,000 rpm and 760 Nm of torque at 3,000 rpm. The only available transmission is an automated manual dual-clutch 7-speed F1 gearbox manufactured by Getrag. Because of power restrictions, racing versions are producing significantly less than the road car. GT3 version develops 550 hp, while GTE has the same engine that produces 485 hp. The GTB’s 7-speed transmission is replaced by a race-spec sequential gearbox, that sends the power to the rear wheels.
The 488 is faster than 458
The 4,568mm long car, designed by Flavio Manzoni, was converted into the GTE/GT3 racing version later in 2015. It was revealed for the first time at Ferrari Challenge Finali Mondiali at Mugello Circuit in November 2015. The racing version of the 488 has more aggressive and aerodynamically improved bodywork,with a large front lip spoiler, fixed rear wing and three-part diffuser.
The car is also few hundred kilos lighter (1245 kg is minimum) and it uses slick tires. Due to new rules and less restrictive regulations, 488 GTE/GT3 has better downforce than its predecessor 458, which means faster lap times on all circuits.
Competitive debut at 2016 Daytona 24h
Ferrari 488 GTE had its competitive debut at 24 hours of Daytona in January 2016. The #68 car, run by Scuderia Corsa, finished 10th overall and 4th in GTLM class. Risi Competizione’s #62 car was two positions behind.
The #62 and #68 crews competed full season in the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. In the last race of the championship, at Road Atlanta, Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander and James Calado scored maiden IMSA victory for 488 GTE.
The #63 Scuderia Corsa won the IMSA GTD title
In the GTD class of the IMSA SportsCar Championship, Scuderia Corsa switched to Ferrari 488 GT3 at 12 hours of Sebring in March 2016, immediately scoring the first victory for the new car. The winning drivers in the #63 Ferrari were Christina Nielsen, Alessandro Balzan and Jeff Segal. Later in the season, the trio won one more race, at Watkins Glen. At the end of the season, Nielsen and Balzan became GTD champions.
Three wins for Ferrari in the 2016 World Endurance Championship
At the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship, AF Corse was running two 488 GTEs, with Gianmaria Bruni, James Calado, Davide Rigon and Sam Bird as full-time drivers. Rigon and Bird scored a maiden WEC victory for the #71 Ferrari 488 GTE in the season-opener at Silverstone in April. They added one more win at Spa-Francorchamps while the other crew, in the #51 car, won at Nurburgring. In 24 Hours Of Le Mans debut, the best Ferrari was the #82 of Risi Competizione, driven by Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander and Matteo Malucelli.
While the 488 GTE is eligible only for the FIA WEC and IMSA SportsCar Championship, the GT3 version is included in many regional and national competitions all over the world, from North America and Europe to Australia and Asia.
Championship titles in the Blancpain GT and Italian GT Championship
In March, the 488 GT3 had a competitive debut on the same weekend at 12 hours of Sebring and in the Australian GT Championship at the Albert Park Circuit. In Europe, the main GT competition was the Blancpain GT Series and five teams were using the Ferrari 488 GT3 during the season. Ferrari teams scored no overall wins but Kessel Racing won the title in the Pro-Am class and also Kessel’s drivers dominated in the Endurance and Sprint Cup.
In other competitions, the most notable results of the Ferrari 488 GT3 was the victory of Scuderia Praha at 24 hours of Brno (last round of the 24H Series) and championship title for Stefano Gai and Mirko Venturi (Black Bull Swiss Racing) at the Italian GT Championship. Ferrari 488 GT3 also competes in other series, such as the British GT Championship, Japanese Super GT Series, International GT Open… In the next couple of years, more championship titles will come, we are absolutely sure of it!