January 5, 2021
Ferrari 488 Challenge
For the 25th Anniversary of the Ferrari Challenge series, Ferrari introduced their first-ever turbocharged V8 for the all-Ferrari one-marque series. A mid-engined, twin-turbocharged, direct injected 3.9-litre V8 good for 670hp, the 488 Challenge was designed and tuned for one thing only: motorsport.
But as beautiful and track-ready as the Ferrari 488 Challenge was, it raised a few eyebrows when it was first announced. Maranello’s decision to replace the naturally aspirated engines that were equipping the Ferrari 458 Challenge with all-new turbo units meant this was the first racing car used in the Prancing Horse’s mono-marque series to feature a turbocharged engine. The last Ferrari to use turbocharged units was instead the Ferrari F40 in 1987 (you can also find it in Project CARS 3).
Cue a few curious and salty jibes from the world’s motoring press. Before they tested it, that is. And before the new engine was awarded not one—but four International Engine of the Year awards in a row.
The engine that powers the Ferrari 488 Challenge turned out to be the most powerful engine ever used in the Ferrari Challenge Series (up until the Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo that was introduced this year), and it comes enshrined in a gorgeous-looking body, finely-tuned for enhanced racing performance.
Performance stats are as you imagine them to be: 0-100 km/h in less than three seconds, and zero to top RPM in fourth gear in six seconds. That all converts to a lap time around Ferrari’s test-track at Fiorano a clear second quicker than its predecessor, the Ferrari 458 Challenge Evo.
The Ferrari 488 Challenge was the first car in Ferrari’s one-marque series to come with Maranello’s very own “Side Slip Angle Control” software that improves longitudinal acceleration. The aero of the Ferrari 488 Challenge was also optimized for racing; the front reworked in order to reduce drag, with the bumper in particular coming in for an extensive redesign to increase front downforce, as well as help balance the rear-end.
And there, at the back, is where you’ll find an absolutely massive rear wing that will remind you of the Ferrari 488 GT3 (also in Project CARS 3), which is no bad thing given the Ferrari 488 GT3’s overall record: 350 victories, 632 podiums, and 81 championships since its 2016 debut. Modern spec’ racing doesn’t come any better than this.