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New technology boosts Ferrari 599XX

Track weapon: Specially selected customers are flown around the world to test ‘their’ $2 million 599XX research and development vehicles.

More downforce, more power and less weight for Ferrari’s 599XX mobile test bed

1 Dec 2011

FERRARI today previewed the latest iteration of its potent 599XX ‘research and development’ model with more power and less weight than before, as well as new active aerodynamics.

Revealed ahead of the Bologna Motor Show in Italy, which officially opens on Saturday, the track-only 599XX was designed as a rolling test bed for technology that will emerge in the next generation of Ferrari supercars for the road, incorporating the fruits of its road and race R&D programs.

There is no official price for the car, which can only be bought – for around $2 million according to reports – by carefully vetted customers but is retained by Ferrari and provided only for special test days at the company’s Fiorano test track and other race circuits around the globe.

The first 599XX was revealed at the Geneva motor show almost three years ago looking very much like the race car that it is, but unrestrained by any particular set of race category regulations.

For 2012-2013, the exhaust outlets have been moved to the sides of the car, releasing a further 15kW of power from the car’s normally aspirated 5.9-litre V12 engine and taking output to a staggering 552kW at 9000rpm while torque goes up to 700Nm.

At the same time, 35kg of weight has been shed, new Pirelli slick race tyres have been fitted and a slightly shorter final-drive gear ratio installed to improve acceleration on technical, medium to high-speed tracks like Fiorano.

However, the primary development on the latest 599XX – not surprising considering the dominant role it plays in Formula One – is aerodynamics.

According to Ferrari, the key to the aero package is an active rear wing design that represents a new aerodynamic concept called ‘opening gap’.

“The wing features two flaps, with profiles similar to those used in Formula One, which rotate electronically to adjust the downforce between the front and rear axles in relation to vehicle speed and the maneuver being effected,” the company said.

“The 599XX active rear wing is actuated automatically according to specific parameters which are integrated with the car’s other control functions (ESP, ABS, SCM and F1-Trac). As a result of this integration, all the electronic controls have been suitably recalibrated.

“The ‘opening gap’ system logic is based on the following parameters: steering wheel angle, longitudinal acceleration, lateral acceleration and vehicle speed.”

Ferrari also modified the front splitter and fitted a new rear diffuser with a larger surface area and redesigned fences.

Whereas the original 599XX produced 280kg of downforce at 200km/h, the new car has 330kg of downforce when the flaps are open and some 440kg when they are in the closed configuration.

The result on the track is a lap time of 1m15s for the front-engined car at Fiorano – 11 seconds faster than a standard 599 GTB Fiorano, two seconds faster than the previous 599XX and one second faster than the original car in the program, the 2005 Enzo-based FXX, which was mid-engined.

Ferrari dedicated its show stand at Bologna – which is not far from the company’s headquarters at Maranello, south of Modena – to its various racing activities.

Displayed alongside the 599XX will be the 458 Challenge, the racing version of the mid-engined 458 Italia and Ferrari’s fifth model in the 19-year history of its single-make championship that spans three continents – Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific.

The company used last year’s Bologna show to debut the stripped-out 458 Challenge, which lapped Fiorano in 1m16.5s despite having ‘only’ 419kw and 540Nm on tap from its 4.5-litre V8 engine.

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