The race-only version of the Ferrari 458 Italia, dubbed the 458 Challenge, has alrady been shown off in preview form, but it made its world debut in the sheetmetal at the Bologna Motor Show today, bringing with it more information and live images both on the show stand and on the track.

Cranking out the same 570 horsepower and using the same E-Diff electronic limited-slip differential as the standard 4.5-liter V-8 of the Italia, the 458 Challenge is otherwise very different.

The traction control system is adapted from Ferrari's F1-Trac system used in F1. The ABS and electronic brakeforce distribution system is borrowed from the 599XX, using Brembo CCM2 carbon ceramic brakes. The suspension is race-built, with uniball joints, up-rated springs and dampers, center-locking 19-inch forged alloy wheels, a 50-mm lower ride height, and shod in Pirelli slicks. Tighter gear ratios better optimize the car's track use to keep the engine in its power band, and closer to the high-strung 9,000-rpm redline.

Weight savings are made throughout the body with extensive use of carbon fiber panels, and the glass is replaced by Lexan wherever possible. The interior is a full-on race treatment, caged, with racing seats, fire suppression, and safety harness. On the steering wheel, the manettino offers the driver three choices for setup of the ABS/EBD, F1-Trac and E-Diff: off, position 1, and position 2, which ramp from no traction control to increasingly higher levels of electronic intervention. These controls allow the driver to adjust the car for varying grip levels, with position 2 being most likely reserved for wet weather.

So just how fast is the new 458 Challenge? According to Ferrari, it's two seconds per lap quicker than the previous F430-based Challenge car around the company's Fiorano test circuit, turning in a time of 1:16.5  thanks in part to its massive lateral grip (in GT car terms) of 1.6 g.


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