Challenge Stradale (2003)
The Challenge Stradale was developed to flank 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 functional to performance or safety, resulting in a brilliantly light and fast berlinetta with a very definite racing set-up. To achieve that drastic weight reduction, the technicians worked on three overlapping areas: materials, construction technologies and overall optimisation of the design. The main material used in the Challenge Stradale’s construction was aluminium, which has a specific weight a third of that of steel. It was used for details of both chassis and bodywork. Other new materials were also introduced: titanium, already employed for the con rods, went into the suspension, while carbon-fibre, a direct transfer from F1, was used for structural elements and the exterior and interior trim.
The Challenge Stradale pushed the aerodynamic concepts employed on the 360 Modena a step further and it featured a stiffer, lower racing set-up as well as availing of specific solutions that increased downforce by 50% compared to 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 and the 19” Challenge wheels.
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 and other dials. The new steering wheel sported specific F1 gearshifting 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 gearbox. Both clutch and shifting were controlled via paddles on the steering column. A new control logic cut shifting times in every phase of use too. 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 also had the Formula 1-derived Launch Control function too. The braking system featured CCM (Carbon Composite Material) discs, the fruit of Ferrari’s ongoing partnership with Brembo. The system, which included aluminium brake, delivered excellent braking and astonishing stopping distances. The Challenge Stradale’s set-up and suspension were greatly modified too: its front and rear titanium springs stiffened and a wider-diameter roll-bar was introduced. The damper calibration was also specific too it and the centre of gravity was lowered by 15 mm.
The Challenge Stradale had a 90° V8 mid engine mounted longitudinally behind the cabin and in unit with the gearbox and differential. Its maximum power was boosted to 425 hp at 8.500 rpm, delivering an excellent specific power of 118,5 CV/litro thanks in part to a slight supercharging at maximum speed (+2% increase in power). The Challenge Stradale retained had the same already high peak torque of 38 kgm at 4750 rpm as the 360 Modena.