Maranello, 14th November
At the invitation of Ferrari, the privateer Prodrive and Rafanelli/Italtecnica teams
ran two 550 Maranello GT cars at the Fiorano circuit, yesterday and today. Both
cars took part in this year's FIA GT Championship, taking two wins and three
pole positions. The teams' official drivers took turns on the track; Peter Cox for
Prodrive and Emanuele Naspetti for the Rafanelli/Italtecnica squad, along with
the Maranello company's official test drivers, Luca Badoer and Dario Benuzzi. A
total of 140 laps was completed, around forty of them on a wet track yesterday.
Luca Badoer was quickest, going round in 1'14"812.
The racing car is based on the original 550 Maranello road car's monocoque
chassis, but with almost every component modified. Despite this, Prodrive
designer, Peter Stevens, has kept the styling of the racing car faithful to the
original Pininfarina design, while ensuring that it will still perform on the track.
The road car's original 1690kg has been trimmed down to 1100kg thanks to
extensive use of carbon fibre bodywork and lightweight components, while
Prodrive has redesigned the V12 engine to increase power output from 485
bhp to more than 600 bhp. This gives the racing car double the power to
weight ratio of the road car, at around 550bhp/tonne. With the necessary
gearing, the Ferrari 550 GT could easily exceed 200 mph (320kph), instead,
this power ensures the car's aerodynamics, including a substantial rear wing,
front splitter and rear diffuser, dramatically increase the downforce and improve
grip. The standard six speed H-gate gearbox is replaced by a six-speed
sequential box from Xtrac, while extra wide, 18 inch Prodrive P-WRC wheels
and AP racing brakes are housed within the increased front and rear track.