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The Ferrari Challenge Stradale
was developed to complement the 360 Modena and 360 Spider with the clear aim
of providing drivers with the kind of performance that only a race-ready car
designed for road use could deliver.
The marque engineers’ experience in the international Ferrari Trofeo Pirelli Challenge and GT competitions meant that they were able to develop a plethora of solutions that made the Challenge Stradale truly unique. This close link to the track was clear not only in the drastic reduction in the car’s weight but also in major modifications to its engine, aerodynamics, set-up, brakes and F1 gearbox. Weight reduction work ensured that the Challenge Stradale was 110 kg lighter than the 360 Modena. This fact, combined with its V8’s higher maximum power output, boosted its performance still further.
The Challenge Stradale was, in fact, directly derived from the 360 Modena. That said, the technicians had removed anything that wasn’t strictly beneficial to performance or safety, resulting in a brilliantly light and fast berlinetta with a very definite racing bias. To achieve that drastic weight reduction, the technicians worked on three overlapping areas: materials, construction technologies and overall optimisation of the design. The primary material used in the Challenge Stradale’s construction was aluminium, which has a density a third of that of steel. It was used for both chassis and bodywork components. Other materials were also incorporated in new applications: titanium, already employed for the con rods, was used in suspension components, while carbon-fibre, a direct transfer from F1, was used for structural elements and exterior and interior trim.
The Challenge Stradale advanced the aerodynamic concepts employed on the 360 Modena a step further and featured a stiffer, lower racing suspension set-up as well as aerodynamic contouring that increased down force by 50% over the 360 Modena. Every last detail of the car’s aerodynamics was honed, right down to the carbon-fibre rear view mirrors which derived from the 360 GT. 19” Challenge wheels , larger than the 18” wheels used in the 360 Challenge cars, were also incorporated with lower profile, DOT legal competition tires, Pirelli P Zero Corsas, for improved cornering and braking.
The Challenge Stradale’s cabin was spare and simple with every single detail given the racing treatment. The instrument cluster, including the central rev counter, was enclosed in a carbon-fibre surround which also encompassed secondary instrumentation. The new steering wheel sported unique F1 gear shifting paddles – the right hand paddle was actually longer to make upward shifting easier coming out of bends.
The Challenge Stradale had an electro-hydraulic F1-type gear change mechanism. The clutch was controlled by sensors and an electronic transmission unit (TCU) tied to digital throttle inputs, and shifting was controlled via paddles on the steering column. A new TCU software improved shifting significantly compared to the 360 F1 system. Instead of the small lever on the tunnel for selecting reverse in the F1 360, there was a special button on the tunnel for reverse too. There were two different configurations (Sport and Race) with corresponding damper and traction control (ASR) settings. In Race mode and with ASR disabled, drivers could use a Formula 1-derived Launch Control function. The braking system featured CCM (Carbon Composite Material) discs, the fruit of Ferrari’s ongoing partnership with Brembo. The system, which included aluminium monobloc brake capliers and CCM rotors, delivered excellent braking and astonishingly short stopping distances. The Challenge Stradale’s alignment and suspension were greatly modified too: its front and rear titanium springs were stiffer and a larger-diameter anti roll-bar was introduced. The damper calibration was also specific to the Challenge Stradale and the ride height was lowered by 15 mm.
The Challenge Stradale had a 90° V8 with a flat plane (180˚) crankshaft, mid engine mounted longitudinally behind the cabin and in unit with the gearbox and differential. Maximum power was boosted to 425 CV at 8.500 rpm, compared to the 360's 400 CV, delivering an excellent specific power of 118,5 CV/litre. This was thanks in part to a slight supercharging effect of ram air at maximum speed (+2% increase in power). The Challenge Stradale had the same already high peak torque of 38 kgm at 4750 rpm as the 360 Modena.