The highlights at the Ferrari stand at the 61st Frankfurt Motor Show will be the presentation of the 612 Scaglietti Model Year 2006 and the world preview of the F430 Challenge, the 8-cylinder berlinetta-derived competition car that will be taking part in the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli from the 2006 season.
The German Show comes at an important moment for the Prancing Horse. 2005 has been a year of both change and affirmation for the company. A year that has seen it separate from Maserati and consolidate its strong sales figures (the number of cars sold by 31 December will exceed 5,000 compared to the 4,975 delivered to new owners in 2004).
Ferrari has also reaffirmed the strong link between its GT and sporting divisions with the new F430 Challenge which is specifically designed to meet the expectations of its sportier clients. The F430 Challenge retains the same general look and 490 hp engine as the road-going version. However, it also incorporates a large number of significant track-oriented modifications and a host of new features not seen in the car currently used in the series, the 360 Challenge, which it joins on the track next season and completely replaces in 2007.
An intensive series of development tests held at Fiorano and other prestigious circuits have honed the F430 Challenge’s talents too. In fact, it offers a stunning series of features sure to meet with the approval of its drivers. As ever, the transfer from Formula 1 is significant, particularly with regard to the braking system which uses carbon-ceramic material (CCM) – a first for a Ferrari sports competition car.
The electronic gearbox is also F1-derived and works in exactly the same way as the one used aboard the Grand Prix car. Thanks to a sinterised two-plate clutch and specific software, it also offers the same gear-changing times as the road-going F430 (150 ms) in the much more extreme track conditions. Fifth and sixth gear ratios have also been modified with respect to the road-going version as has the final drive ratio in order to make the very most of the engine on all the circuits where the F430 Challenge will race. New 19′ slick tyres were also developed specifically by Pirelli and are designed to comply with the very strict racing regulations that demand endurance whilst still delivering blistering performance.
The F430 Challenge boasts a kerb weight of just 1,225 kg (excluding petrol). Weight has been reduced in every area of the car, from the engineering to the bodywork. Of particular note are the Lexan® windscreen, the all-carbon fibre intake plenum cover, and the specific exhaust system.
To ensure that drivers get the full benefit of the car’s sporty prowess on the track, the E-Diff has been replaced by a mechanical differential and the EBD has been replaced with a mechanical system. Similarly, the stability and traction control is permanently disengaged and “race” settings have been maintained on the gearbox and engine management system, along with the ABS and ASR, thus doing away with the manettino switch. The ASR can be deactivated by the driver at will.
The most notable of the other solutions introduced in the new F430 Challenge is the new steering wheel with a quick release mechanism to make it easier to get into and out of the car. The wheel is also equipped with buttons for radio contact with the pits, to set the pit lane speed and interface with the new colour digital instrument panel. The rear of the car is characterised by a new exhaust system which has high central tail pipes, and by the modified grille which increases the extraction of hot air from the rear of the engine bay. The anti-roll bars, springs and single-rate shocks have all been modified for racing use too. The centre locking wheels make wheel changes faster too as does the fact that the car incorporates pneumatic jacks.
Although Ferrari has worked hard this year to meet the demands of its sportier clients, that has not stopped it from producing the Model Year 2006 version of the 612 Scaglietti for owners who like ultra-refined elegance as well as performance.
Unveiled at Detroit in 2004, the flagship of the Ferrari range now has an even more impressive standard spec than ever with leather trim in the same colour as the seats now extending to the headlining and the side panels running lengthways between the A- and the C-post. The result is a brighter and even more elegant cockpit finish that can be personalised still further courtesy of the Carrozzeria Scaglietti programme.
The sumptuous MY06 also boasts a new radio-CD system with satellite navigation system, voice recognition system, MP3 player, Bluetooth and a Compact Flash memory card reader that will allow the owner to store and play 4 GB of music. The system is integrated with a newly refined display on the instrument panel too. To improve handling in tight spaces, rear parking sensors are also now offered as standard.
Also on display at the Ferrari stand is the GTC Handling package for the 612 Scaglietti which offers a more sporty set-up with carbon-ceramic brakes, a specific gear change software upgrade and 19″ split rims.
In addition to the two versions of the Scaglietti and the new F430 Challenge, the Ferrari stand will also feature the Superamerica, the F430 berlinetta and Spider and the 2004 F1 World Championship-winning F2004. All of the road cars displayed are equipped with the F1-style gearbox which is now ordered by the vast majority of clients.