A Ferrari 458 GT3, the motorsport-focused version of the prancing horse’s 458 Italia supercar, has set a new lap record for closed-wheel race cars at Australia’s world-famous Bathurst circuit.
The V8-powered Ferrari clocked a time of 2min:04.9 seconds during a weekend practice session around the 6.2-kilometre track.
Maranello Motorsport, the team running the 458 GT3 in Australia, says the lap time wipes four seconds off the previous record set by the rival Audi R8 GT3 category race car.
The 458 GT3 Ferrari was making its debut on an Australian race track after the car was unveiled in Europe in April. The time was set by Danish racing driver Allan Simonsen.
The raciest version of the 458 is heavily modified to conform to the FIA regulations governing GT3 racing globally. Its bodywork also looks dramatically different, including a noticeably reduced ride height and aerodynamically modified bodywork designed to increase cornering grip and straightline speed.
Changes over a regular 458 would include engine, gearbox and suspension.
An exact power figure for the 458 GT3 is unavailable, but GT3 rules limit the number of modifications made to the engine. The regular 458 Italia produces 425kW from its 4.3-litre V8.
Racing Ferraris for customer teams are built to order as part of the Italian marque’s Corsa Cliente program, but the GT3 version would naturally cost a significant premium over the standard $526,950 (plus costs) 458 Italia.
In addition to the aforementioned R8 racer, the Ferrari will also take on a GT3 version of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 'Gullwing'.
“There’d been a lot of people with stopwatches around the track and to now have confirmation of the new record during the team’s first test is very exciting so we’re looking forward to the racing,” said Mark Coffey, the managing director of Maranello Motorsport.
The 458 GT3’s time also eclipses the fastest lap by a V8 Supercar – a 2:06.8 recorded by Craig Lowndes driving a Holden Commodore in 2010.
However, the GT3’s effort couldn’t match the fastest breed of single-seater, open-wheel race cars.
A 2008 McLaren Formula One car, driven by Briton Jenson Button, lapped Bathurst in March in an unofficial time of 1min:48sec during a pre-Melbourne Grand Prix publicity stunt.