New horse in town: 296 GT3 ready to build on Ferrari’s GT heritage

Ferrari’s heritage in sports car racing predates its storied history in Formula 1. And it will begin a new chapter at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in about three months with the world debut of the Ferrari 296 GT3.

The history of “Prancing Horse” sports cars began in 1949 when a 166MM was driven to victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans by Luigi Chinetti and Peter Mitchell-Thomson. Chinetti developed a close relationship with Enzo Ferrari and played a huge role in Ferrari’s rise to prominence in the North American market, as a distributor/dealer and operator of NART – North American Racing Team.

The Italian brand’s track record in American sports car racing is impressive, including two overall victories in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and no less than a dozen open-field triumphs in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts. Ferrari has not competed for overall sports car wins to date in the 21st century, but its GT-based cars have won class wins in almost every major IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship event, including six at Sebring. since 2007 and 10 at Motul Petit Le Mans. with Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta since 2003.

Ferrari introduces its new GT competitor for 2023 – the 296 GT3 – to replace the outgoing 2020 488 GT3 EVO, which last claimed IMSA victory at Sebring in March when Cetilar Racing triumphed in the GT Daytona class with drivers Antonio Fuoco, Roberto Lacorte and Giorgio Sernagiotto. Risi Competizione’s 488 GT3 earned two second-place finishes this year in the GTD PRO class, at the Rolex 24 and the Six Hours of The Glen at Sahlen, earning Risi the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup championship for the class.

Since 2016, race-prepared versions of the 488 have won more than 500 international race victories, making it one of the most successful competition Ferraris of all time. Nick Cassidy took the decisive victory for the car at the Red Bull Ring on September 24 in a Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) event.

As successful as the 488 produced, Ferrari looked forward to the 296 and the new car’s link to its production line.

“The 296 GT3 represents the future of the prancing horse in GT racing, a sector which has always had the closest relationship with customers and the greatest transfer of technology and innovative solutions to production cars”, reads- on in a press release from the manufacturer when the car was released. presented this summer.

Like its GT predecessors, the 296 GT3 was developed from Ferrari’s best-selling road car – in this case the recently revealed 296 GTB, which features a twin-turbocharged V6 engine mated to an energy management system hybrid and an eight-speed dual-clutch. transmission. French racing car specialist ORECA is once again working with Ferrari as the project’s technical partner.

International GT3 regulations won’t allow hybrid technology to be incorporated into the race car, but the 296 GT3 shares the road car’s wide 120-degree turbocharged V6 layout, a major departure from the naturally aspirated V8 used in the 488 (and the Ferrari 458 and 430 iterations that preceded it). Producing 600 horsepower, the new V-6 is more fuel efficient than the outgoing V-8 and was also designed to be compatible with new biofuels mandated by IMSA and other sanctioning bodies.

The aerodynamics of the 296 GTB road car were developed in conjunction with the GT3 racing program. Ferrari claims a 20% downforce gain over the 2020 488 GT3 EVO within homologation parameters. The car was designed in a modular way to improve maintenance, especially under fire during endurance racing.

Ferrari has consulted with professional drivers and gentlemen in its quest to improve cockpit ergonomics. Most of the car’s functions are now handled by steering wheel controls using technology pioneered in Ferrari’s Formula 1 cars.

“This car has been meticulously designed down to the smallest detail and from every angle, in accordance with the new GT3 regulations,” read a Ferrari statement. “It inherits the winning heritage of the 488 GT3 while intending to write new pages in the history of Prancing Horse motorsport.”

The 296 GT3 began track testing in April. Since then, it has racked up thousands of development miles at Ferrari’s own Fiorano circuit in Italy and other international venues.

The 296 GT3 will make its world competition debut at the 2023 Rolex 24 At Daytona, scheduled for January 28-29. Preliminary activities begin with the annual Roar Before the Rolex 24 from January 20-22 at Daytona International Speedway.

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