Cars

The Prancing Horse’s V6 engine returns to GT competition
Words: Luca Giraldi
Film Editor: Oliver McIntyre

The future of Ferrari in the world of GT competition is taking shape, evolving around the 296 GTB, which has been redefined to meet the requirements of Competizioni GT track and performance specs.

 

The new 296 GT3 is the heir to the 488 GT3, which in its standard and Evo configurations, has – since its first race – collected 107 titles, with 429 victories on 770 starts, an extraordinary result that confirms its position as the most successful racing Ferrari of all time. 

From sketch to reality: watch the Centro Stile team bring the 296 GT3 to life 

For the designers and engineers of Ferrari Competizioni GT, the comparison with the 488 GT3 and its palmarès represents not only a performance to beat; it also represents an inexhaustible font of experiences and technical solutions from which inspiration could be drawn in the search for new shapes. A task where lines, volumes and surfaces are the result of a perfect synthesis of performance and aesthetic requirements, because a Ferrari always has to be recognisable, both on the road and on the world’s most prestigious circuits.

Like yesteryear's 250 LM, the new 296 GT3 is intended for GT competition, as well as those looking to have some weekend racing fun

For this reason, the design of the car – excluding various aerodynamic enhancements exclusive to the track version – has maintained its bond with the series model, which in its development phase made strong references to cars like the 250 LM of 1963, that perfect marriage of simplicity and functionality. 

 

It’s clear from the early sketches how the distinctive stylistic elements of the 296 GTB have been maintained.  Performance and style elements merge perfectly, highlighting the fusion of the technical and the aesthetic – the trademark of every Ferrari.  

 

Computational Fluid Dynamics calibrated-airflow studies – carried out in the Ferrari wind tunnel – concerned all the areas of the car, the aim being to ensure an aerodynamic setup that could guarantee optimal drag coefficient and downforce and so enhance the vehicle’s handling.

An exclusive glimpse at some of the sketches of the Prancing Horse's future endurance racer - the 296 GT3

The 296 GT3 – already being assembled at the Oreca manufacturing facility in Signes, France – will mark the return to track of a Ferrari powered by a 6-cylinder engine. However, in observance of technical regulations, this model will not include the electric powertrain system that features on the road-going 296 GTB.

 

The first Ferrari to adopt a V6 (at the time with a 1500 cc engine in the 65° configuration) was the single-seater Dino 156 F2 of 1957.  The following year Maranello presented another two V6 versions, with increased engine capacity, on some front-engine Sport Prototype cars, like the 196 S, and on the 246 F1, the single-seater F1 which in 1958 carried Mike Hawthorn to a Drivers victory in the Formula One World Championship.

The 296 GT3 replaces the 488 GT3, the most successful racing Ferrari of all time

The first Ferrari to use a mid-rear-engined V6 was the 246 SP of 1961. That won, amongst others, both that and the following year’s Targa Florio.  Also in 1961, Ferrari won its first Constructors’ title in Formula One with the 156 F1, which mounted a V6 engine with a 120° ‘V’ configuration.  

 

Turbos mounted within the engine ‘V’ were installed for the first time by Ferrari on the 126 CK, in 1981, and then on the 126 C2 of 1982 – the first turbo car to win the Constructors’ title in Formula One, itself followed by the success of the 126 C3 in 1983. Following in a long line of worthy predecessors, the Ferrari 296 GT3 has its work cut out. Track development will commence this year, with the car’s racing debut expected in 2023.