Developed in conjunction with Michelotto Automobili, the 458 Italia Grand Am was given its track baptism at the Fiorano circuit. It is based on the GT3 version of the V8 Ferrari berlinetta, with the aim of racing in the famous North American series.
The 458 Grand Am is built to match the American regulations and is therefore different to the European car, especially in that it develops 500 horsepower and has less efficient aerodynamics than the GT version. It is also fitted with a 48 mm restrictor and maximum revs are 8000. Significant modifications have been made to the braking system, as the car has neither ABS nor traction control. Other differences to the GT3 include the roll-over bar which gives greater lateral protection to increase safety in a series in which collisions are rather more frequent. The car is fitted with tyres from Continental, the sole supplier to the series, featuring a very hard compound, again to conform with the series regulations. On its shakedown, it completed a good number of trouble-free laps, 45 to be precise in the hands of Maurizio Mediani and Jaime Melo, as they took turns at the wheel.
After making its track debut at home in Fiorano, the 458 Italia Grand Am was back in action on 26 and 27 July for a private test session at Florida's Daytona International Speedway. Taking turns at the wheel were the tried and tested duo of Jaime Melo and Toni Vilander who can pride themselves of having an extensive list of wins to their name in Ferraris. They will continue development work on the 458 Italia Grand Am in preparation for its participation in the 2012 American championship.
Daytona recalls many memories of past Ferrari victories in the famous 24 Hour race, the company having close links with this important event. In fact, Ferrari has taken part in 47 of these endurance races, winning five of them outright as well as taking 15 class wins. Standing out in that list was an amazing clean sweep of the podium in 1967 for the two Ferrari 330 P4 and a 412 N.A.R.T., while back in 1962, Phil Hill and Ricardo Rodriguez won in a Dino 246 SP. That year, no less than four Ferraris finished in the top ten while in 1972, Mario Andretti and Jacky Ickx won in a 312 PB.
The 458 Italian Grand Am has completed two days of intensive testing at Florida's Daytona International Speedway, as part of its preparation for taking part in the 2012 American championship. Brazil's Jaime Melo was at the wheel, having just come from partnering Finland's Toni Vilander to second place in the Mosport Grand Prix, in Ontario, at the fourth round of the American Le Mans Series.
Company press release, last updated on July 28, 2011