Ferrari is planning to use the 296 GTB as the base car for its next GT3 competition model launching in 2023, according to the director of the Italian manufacturer’s Attivita Sportive GT department.
Antonello Coletta has made a strong indication that the 296 GTB – a V6 mid-engine plug-in hybrid sports car that was unveiled last month – is in line to replace the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 after next year’s racing season.
He added that “internal studies” are ongoing to determine the final approved model.
Ferrari’s global GT3 program has focused on the V8 twin-turbo 488 GTB road car since 2016. The GT3 car was updated with Evo kits in 2018 and 2020.
The road-going 296 will be powered by a 2.9-liter, 120-degree internal combustion engine producing 663 hp, which is similar to the output of the 488’s twin-turbo V8.
The main engine is linked to a 167 hp electric motor. However, GT3 does not allow hybrid technology, so this motor would need to be removed for a 296-based racing model.
This was previously achieved by Honda when it removed the electric motor from its second-generation NSX road car in the development of a GT3-homologated version.
“The model base for the new car will probably be the 296, the new car that we presented recently,” Coletta told Sportscar365. “This is probably our new base of the car.
“I think it’s very, very early. We have more chance to choose the model because there exist more projects that are coming.
“But of course it is impossible to explain outside of the factory, because we are [doing] internal studies.”
Coletta said that Ferrari is “warming up” for the presentation of its next-generation GT3 racer, which will make its debut in less than two years’ time.
The 296 road car is set to enter production in 2022, while the competition model is slated for a 2023 debut.
The year after next is due to mark a watershed in Ferrari’s motorsport story, as the company launches new flagship racing products in both GT3 and Le Mans Hypercar.
Ferrari has previously stated its commitment to the GTE category until the end of 2022, after which it expects GT3 to play an even greater role in top-line GT racing.
“The production of the [road-going] 488 is finished,” said Coletta.
“We have 2021 and 2022 for GT3 and GTE, but after we stop. We finish at the end of 2022, probably with a Challenge for one more year. But with GT3 and GTE we stop.
“Of course it’s normal that if GTE-Am continues, we have the 488 for one year. But after, probably all the classes move to the GT3 category. We will be ready with the new car.”
Coletta stressed that the upcoming GT3 model will be developed by Ferrari. An external partner will then be appointed to help build and service the cars.
In April, ORECA was reported as being set to replace Michelotto as Ferrari’s GT racing build partner. Coletta wouldn’t name ORECA when discussing the next GT3 program, but indicated that the build partner will “probably” be new.
Long-time Ferrari associate Michelotto is confirmed as the 488 GT3 build partner up to the completion of and beyond the car’s homologation cycle.
“Our collaboration [with Michelotto] is long-term and I think that will continue for the future,” said Coletta. “Because Michelotto works for Ferrari on many activities, not just GT3. Nothing is stopped.
“I would like to be very clear: Ferrari is in charge of the Ferrari car projects. LMH, GT3… the projects are in the charge of our technicians.
“After, we assemble the car with a partner, and the partner for the new GT3 probably will be different. This is the only different [aspect]. But the project is in charge of Ferrari.
“I know that around the world exists a lot of misunderstanding. The car is created in Maranello. This is most important.”
Coletta suggested that Ferrari’s intention is for its new GT3 car to roll out shortly before its Le Mans Hypercar does the same.
Sportscar365 revealed earlier this week that the unnamed Ferrari LMH will be a four-wheel-drive hybrid-powered car built to the prototype side of the technical regulations.
“The car is getting ready for the 2023 season,” said Coletta when asked about the next-generation GT3 vehicle’s debut. “It’s another project that we studied from the factory.
“I hope that [the] first test will be before the LMH. I hope in February next year, two or three months before the LMH. We are very busy. But we hope to make a good job.”