Ferrari introduced their F430 GT(C) ahead of the 2006 season and was designed to compete in the GT2 (GTE) class. The V8-powered vehicle was a strong performer, winning all major championships. it was a very popular customer racing car with over 50 examples produced. In fact, it was the most popular racing Ferrari since the 250 GT.
In 2010, Ferrari replaced the F430 road car with the 458 Italia. The competition version was not far behind, with news, pictures and information following a short time later. Michelotto had been tasked with transforming the road car into a contender in the GT2/GTE category.
The Ferrari 458 Italia had a lightweight aluminum space frame chassis which was carried over to the racing car. Many of the mechanical components were modified and upgraded for the grueling demands of racing. The 4.5-liter V8 was de-tuned to comply with racing regulations, and was rated at 470 bhp. The road-going version delivered 570 bhp. The engine was mated to a six-speed sequential gearbox with a conventional gear-lever system.
The completed car was put through its paces in 2010 by the works driver Jamie Melo. Michelotto continued to fine-tune the GT2 contender. The first custom cars was completed just in the time for the official Sebring testing in February of 2011. The following month, the 458 made its official racing debut at Sebring, but unfortunately it was unable to outpace the very strong field. More work, testing, and preparation was needed.
After the teething problems were resolved, the 458 Italia GT2 scored its first class victory just two weeks later at the Le Castellet 6 Hours.By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2012