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Ferrari's Race Track Thriller


The Ferrari FXX prototype is one of the most extreme supercars ever built. But only a handful of people will ever get to drive it -- or see it

After two years of ferocious testing, Ferrari have made large-scale improvements to one of the most extreme supercars they've ever built. Available only to a select handful of owners (including 7-times Formula One champ Michael Schumacher), the FXX prototype now makes a ridiculous 860 horsepower (641.3kW) at a screaming 9500RPM, and incorporates the absolute bleeding edge of barely-filtered F1 technology. Never intended for road use, the car can only be driven at trackdays approved by Ferrari, and all driving data is fed back into the Ferrari roadcar development program.

Ferrari's FXX development program has been extended for a further two years after the company released an "evolution kit" aimed at improving the car's already stratospheric handling and performance. The FXX is not homologated for road use and Ferrari has no plans to race it. In fact, it only exists as a racetrack thriller for a tiny group of selected Ferrari owners, letting them act as development drivers to test the absolute cutting edge of Ferrari's F1-bred roadcar technology.

Launched in 2005, the FXX prototype is part of a specific R&D program agreed with a selected group of just over 20 clients involving 14 group test sessions and 14 private ones over the last two years. Thanks to readings taken over the 16,500 kilometres of tests carried out in 2006 and the 18,500 kilometers covered in 2007, the modifications made to the car have focused on honing its aerodynamics, running gear and electronics.

Car #30, the final FXX built, is slightly different from the others -- it's painted black instead of the traditional red, and its side panels bear the signature of its rather well-known owner, a German fellow called Michael Schumacher, who has contributed heavily to the car's development and driven it at various exhibitions around the world.

Maranello's engineers studied the wealth of information gained in the testing process to develop a kit which will cut the FXX's Fiorano lap time to under 1'16'' (previously it was 1'18''). The FXX's 6262 cc V12 engine can now punch out a massive 860 hp at 9500 rpm, compared to the relatively anaemic 651 horsepower of the US$643,330 Enzo Ferrari. Gearshifting takes just 60 ms, a drop of 20 ms on the previous time, and the gear ratios have been adapted to make use of the extra 1000 rpm now delivered by the engine.

The car's new traction control system, developed in close collaboration with the GES Racing Division engineers, gives the driver a choice of no less than nine different settings (plus the off position) which are selected using a switch on the central tunnel. This means that the driver really can modify the car's behaviour on the track from corner to corner, just as the Formula 1 drivers do to maximise performance and reduce tyre wear. The FXX's traction control is also now less invasive and more flexible, adapting more efficiently to the individual driving style of each driver - a requirement pinpointed when this very extreme car was being driven on the track by non-professional drivers.

The FXX's special 19" Bridgestone tyres now last longer too thanks to a new car setup and new front suspension geometry, while the Brembo brakes, which boast large Composite Ceramic Material (CCM) discs, are more efficient with the result that the brake pads last twice as long. Thanks to the drivers' feedback the Ferrari engineers have also developed new aerodynamic solutions aimed at increasing downforce over the rear axle. The FXX now sports a new rear diffuser, nolder and rear flaps which have combined to increase aerodynamic efficiency by 25% overall. The active front spoiler control system settings have been adjusted to take these modifications into account too. New telemetry monitoring of the steering angle and brake pump pressure will further boost the interaction between Client test drivers and the company's engineers also. From next year onwards, it will be possible for drivers to have two extra video cameras mounted on their car in addition the existing rear-facing one. This will, of course, give the drivers excellent rear visibility without having to impinge in any way on the car's aerodynamics.

The US$2.5 million FXX evolution package includes participation in a series of track events that Ferrari is organizing at international circuits for 2008/2009. Six events are planned for each year (two in North America, two in Europe and two in Asia). In addition to these, the FXXs will also be participating, as per tradition, in the prestigious end-of-season Ferrari World Finals.

As happened in 2006/2007, the cars will be backed up at each event by a 15-member official team made up of engineers, electronics experts and mechanics capable of providing complete assistance to clients. Needless to say, owners will still be able to organize their own private individual track sessions in their car as well. You'd hope so, for the price.

Check out this YouTube video to get an idea of the experience the lucky 30 have bought themselves -- and bask in the wild roar of that screaming, ferocious engine.

Provided by Gizmag.com—ideas, innovation, invention

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