What you race when you have lots of money

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There are some categories in motor sport which are only there to allow rich people to indulge their whims.  One of these is the Ferrari Challenge series with the new Ferrari 458 Challenge track car shown at the Bologna motor show.  The track car is derived from the 458 Italia supercar and will be produced in limited numbers, with a considerable premium over the road version’s $526,950 price tag.

It is the fifth model built by Ferrari since 1993 for its one-make Challenge Cup race series held in Europe, North America, Italy and (starting next year with rounds in Japan and China) Asia-Pacific.

Rich man’s toy Rich man’s toy

This Challenge is lighter than the regular Italia resulting in 0-100 km/h acceleration time of just 3.4 seconds.

As well as stripping out all non-essential components, Ferrari has reduced the thickness of all the body panels, increased the number of carbon-fibre panels and fabricated all windows from Lexan polycarbonate material instead of glass.

Another first for a Ferrari Challenge model is the adoption of the company’s F1-Trac traction control system, which makes it very interesting as traction control is (supposedly) banned in F1.

The F1-Trac system is integrated with the E-Diff and constantly monitors levels of grip “to guarantee maximum stability and acceleration both into and out of corners”.

Three user-selectable settings on the steering wheel; levels one and two offer varying levels of assistance calibrated specifically for track use, but those with considerable race experience (or sheer bravado) can turn the system off completely.

The 458 Challenge retains the road car’s 4.5 liter V8 engine, which produces 419 kW of power at 9000 rpm and a prodigious 540 Nm of torque, but modifications have been made to the gear ratios and calibration of the seven-speed dual-clutch F1 gearbox to produce a better torque spread at lower revs.

The suspension features steel ball-joints, stiffer springs, single-rate alloy dampers, center-lock 19 inch forged alloy rims, Pirelli slick tyres and a ride height lowered by 50 mm all round.

Braking is provided by Brembo CCM2 carbon-ceramic brakes integrated with the latest ABS.

And you too can race one – if you have the money!