Driving a 488 GT3 Ferrari

Driving a 488 GT3 Ferrari

It’s hardcore to imagine that the 488 Pista isn’t? And if so, you should meet the 488 GT3. The GT3 is a purebred racer related to Ferrari’s WEC rival, the 488 GTE. Even though it has the same genetic makeup as its road-going counterpart, this new car is optimized for GT racing’s most successful, intensely competitive, and highly contested era.

This year’s 488 GT3 was a huge hit when it debuted, winning its first six races and the 12 Hours of Sebring in a row. As a result of its first two seasons in operation, it won the 2017 IMSA championship in America, the Blancpain GT Series in Europe, Japan’s Super Taikyu championship, and the Bathurst 12 Hours in Australia. A remarkable achievement in the face of ferocious opposition.

There are very few chances to test a Ferrari race vehicle backed by the manufacturer, so we set out for Mugello, the Ferrari-owned circuit located in Tuscany, to drive the 488 GT3 that won the Daytona 24 Hours last year. Even though we’re sharing the track with other vehicles, this isn’t a live race weekend or a test session; rather, we’re interrupting Club Competizioni GT’s maiden gathering (see panel).

Since a complete novice to both the automobile and the track, I’m happy about this as it’s a hidden gem and one of Europe’s most tough. When it comes to MotoGP, you’ll recognize it as where Valentino Rossi’s adoring supporters assemble. Intrepid racers will find themselves in a spectacular location, with a 3.26-mile circuit stretching across the Tuscan hills.

I’m ready to get started after a briefing on the controls and donning my box-fresh Club Competizioni GT overalls (red, of course). The day is laid-back, and the only pressure is on me. I know it sounds clich√©, but driving a Ferrari race car is unique. Unfortunately, I don’t understand why this is the case. On the plus side, this reveals me to be more optimistic than I had previously thought.

Even while it’s pumped up compared to the 488 road car, it retains a purity that some of the more ridiculous GT3 opponents don’t possess. Accompanied by suspension and brakes optimized to within a micron of GT3 standards, which allow considerable deviation from the road car, but stringent enforcement. Additionally, the transmission is a six-speed racing unit with pneumatic changes, which helps distribute the weight and aerodynamics of the vehicle more evenly so that the car is more stable. This is a 488, but not the one we’re used to.

Once you’re behind the wheel, the driving experience is exhilarating and terrifying. You’re aware of the safety that these GT3 cars have been designed to provide. HANS wings on the seat augment your personal HANS device, and even a removable panel in the ceiling allows you to be evacuated while still strapped to the seat in the event of a Big One. I don’t get into a race vehicle with the thought of crashing in my head, but it’s also soothing to know that other people have had similar experiences. Because the switchgear is large, well-spaced, and properly labeled, it’s easy to view and operate while wearing a helmet and gloves, even if you don’t need to fiddle with it once you’re driving.

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