Ferrari last week gave a first look at its new GT3-spec race car based on the 296 GTB.
The car completed its initial shakedown test in April at Ferrari's Fiorano racetrack, and following its homologation process later this year will serve as the replacement for the current 488 GT3.
The first race is confirmed as next January's 2023 Daytona 24 Hours, the opening round of the IMSA SportsCar Championship. And when it starts racing, it will have a new Porsche 911 GT3 R to contend with.
The 296 GT3 features a sharp design with plenty of aerodynamic elements that together help boost downforce some 20% higher than on the 488 GT3. Inspiration for the design came from the 250 LM, the car that earned Ferrari its final overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans back in 1965.
The 296 GT3 shares a powertrain with the 296 GTB, though due to technical regulations it skips the electrified elements of the road car. We'll remind you the road car is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 and an electric motor sandwiched between the engine and an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The 296 GTB's engine generates 654 hp on its own while the electric motor adds 164 hp to bring the total to 818 hp.
The race car instead goes with the V-6 only, rated here at around 600 hp. The engine sits farther forward and lower down than in the road car, lowering the center of gravity and also helping to improve the torsional rigidity of the aluminum chassis, which is around 10% higher than in the 488 GT3. The race car also skips the road car's DCT in favor of a 6-speed sequential unit.
2023 Ferrari 296 GT3 race car
The 296 GT3 has a slightly longer wheelbase than the road car, and the suspension design is significantly different compared to the 488 GT3. The double wishbone arms front and rear were picked to aid grip at high speeds and limit stress on the tires. The braking system was also revised and upgraded, with newly designed calipers (6-piston front and 4-piston rear) and rotors (15.75 inches front and 13 inches rear). The wheels are a forged set measuring 18 inches at each corner. The dry weight of the car is approximately 2,755 pounds.
The 296 GT3 has some big shoes to fill. The 488 GT3 managed to score 107 titles from its debut race to date, with 429 wins from 770 starts. Those figures make it Ferrari's most successful race car to date. But as good as the 296 GT3 might be, it will likely be overshadowed by Ferrari's Le Mans Hypercar race car also set to compete from 2023, specifically in the Hypercar class of the FIA World Endurance Championship and possibly also the Grand Touring Prototype class of the SportsCar Championship.
A 296 GTB-based race car for Ferrari's Challenge one-make series should also be in the pipeline, though timing is uncertain.