AUTO

Fastest Ferrari Ever Revealed

Ferrari recently showed off its new Laboratorio Technologico 599XX experimental car based on the regular 599 GTB Fiorano, and while we all wished the wild concept would eventually enter production, the chances of actually buying one are next to nil except maybe for a few lucky people enlisted as Ferrari client test drivers.

However, a tamer version of the car, while still aimed at well-heeled track enthusiasts, is going to be launched later in the year--and this one will actually be road-legal. Making its world debut at this month’s 2010 Beijing Auto Show, the new car will revive the most hallowed of Ferrari badges: GTO (Gran Turismo Omologata)--the first time those three letters will have been used since the 288 GTO ended production almost a quarter of a century ago.

Similar in theory to the F430 Scuderia and the 360 Challenge Stradale before that, the new 599 GTO is, in fact, Ferrari’s fastest ever road car. Not surprisingly, the car set a record lap time at the Fiorano circuit of just 1m 24s. It is an exclusive limited edition special which, in true Ferrari tradition, is a completely new concept, albeit inspired by the 599XX.

To achieve this status, the regular 599 GTB’s venerable 6.0-liter V-12 engine was uprated to 670 horsepower and the car put on an extensive weight saving program to bring the final kerb weight down to 3,296 pounds. This resulted in an acceleration time for the 0-62 mph sprint of 3.35 seconds and a top speed in excess of 208 mph.

As is Ferrari’s policy, every new model comes with the automaker’s latest technology. Thus the 599 GTO is equipped with the latest, second-generation carbon-ceramic brakes which are lighter and offer better performance, new aerodynamic innovations, such as the wheel doughnuts which increase aerodynamic efficiency as well as improve brake cooling, and the Supersport tires developed by Michelin include a wider front tire for greater roadholding. The driver-car interface is also new with the adoption of the Virtual Race Engineer (VRE) which provides the driver with instantaneous information on performance.

The engine, also, is directly derived from the 599XX but tuned to meet environmental standards. Its peak output of 670 horsepower arrives at a lofty 8,250 rpm, as does its torque of 457 pound-feet, which arrives at 6,500 rpm. The car also has a racing-type intake system with a new manifold with diffuser-type intake geometry and short inlet tracts designed to improve power delivery at high revs and reduce losses. The engine sound inside the car is carefully controlled to balance the intake sound with the exhaust, which features a 599XX derived 6-into-1 manifold. Sending drive to the rear wheels is Ferrari’s six-speed automated manual transmission, which has shift times as low as 60 ms.

However, the engine is only part of the story. Since the very earliest state of the 599 GTO's development, Ferrari’s engineers worked to ensure that the handling of the car would remain stable even at the limit. Apart from new springs and a stiffer rear antiroll bar, the 599 GTO has been fitted with a second generation magnetorheological (magnetic ride) suspension control system. The suspension works in tandem with the VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) and latest-generation F1-Trac traction control. This makes the car extremely responsive to driver inputs--thanks in part to the adoption of a very direct steering ratio--but also very stable under braking, sharper on turn-in, more precise in cornering and quicker out of corners.

Aerodynamics also play a major role. The car’s aerodynamics have benefited significantly from Ferrari engineers’ experience in F1 and with the 599XX--the 599 GTO generates 317 pounds of downforce at 124 mph. The entire car was honed, including the front, the sides, the flat underbody and cooling flows. In the latter instance, the GTO can count on improved ducting to the brake discs and pads, and the adoption of wheel doughnuts--a disc positioned outside the brake disc that ensure that hot air exiting the wheelarch stays as close to the body of the car as possible to reduce drag.

Work on the nose of the car was aimed at reducing the width of the wake generated by the front and thus reduce drag. The front spoiler incorporates a separate lower wing that increases downforce at the front of the car and increases the flow of cooling air to the oil radiator. On the flanks there’s a new sill design with a more pronounced leading edge that improves the efficiency of the central section of the underbody. The underbody itself incorporates a new, lower front section with diffusers ahead of the front wheels to optimize downforce, and a new double-curve rear diffuser.

Other specs include 20 inch wheels wrapped with 285 mm tires up front and 315 mm tires in the rear, and Brembo brakes consisting of 15.7 inch carbon-ceramic discs up front and 14.2 inch discs in the rear.

The 599 GTO will be built in a limited run of just 599 cars and will be available for sale shortly after its debut in Beijing later this month.

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