Ferrari’s 288 GTO broke cover at 1984’s Geneva Motor Show to great fanfare, for it marked a return to endurance competition for Ferrari. This, however, was sports-prototype racing of a different stripe. It was the first time Ferrari tackled the world of rallying.
Specifically, it would compete in a rallye category known as Group B. Incredibly popular in the early and mid 1980s, Group B attracted some of the world’s wildest cars to a series of events staged on circuits that combined paved and unpaved sections.
The GTO that Ferrari intended to use was cut from a different cloth than its already quite-exotic street counterpart. The use of carbon-fiber composites was even more extensive, and the V-8 was greatly modified, with larger turbochargers and a higher compression ratio for more than 600 horsepower.
The body was considerably different from that of the production 288 GTO, as well. It had a different nose, cabin, and sides, and a rear with a high wing for downforce. Weighing just over 2,000 pounds, its top speed was reported at 225 mph.
It was called the GTO Evoluzione, but it never competed in Group B. As development continued, fatal accidents on the circuit caused the series to be canceled.
The Evoluzione thus became the starting point for 1987’s F40 road car. In 1989, its racing offspring, the Ferrari F40 LM, appeared. Done at the instigation of France’s influential importer, Pozzi Ferrari, the model was developed by renowned Ferrari GT and sports-prototype tuner Michelotto. It featured a reinforced chassis, revised suspension, larger brakes and wheels, different rear wing, and a much more powerful engine. It raced with moderate results in America’s IMSA series.
Three years later, Michelotto developed the F40 GT in response to the renewed interest in sports and GT racing. Aimed at the Italian Supercar Championship, the F40 GT used many lessons learned on the LMs. New suspension pieces and settings helped handling. A different exhaust and turbos with slightly higher boost lifted horsepower to around 560.
The F40 GT fared well in competition in Italy, winning eight of 10 races in 1993, and 14 of 20 in 1994.
The final variation on the theme that started with the 288 GTO Evoluzione was the F40 GTE. Made by Michelotto, it was aimed in part at a series formed essentially as a venue for privateers to race competition versions of the day’s fastest road-based GTs. Called the BPR GT Championship, it eventually attracted such supercars as the McLaren F1.
The GTE had a stronger chassis and bigger brakes than the F40 GT. And in addition to the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 used by its predecessor, at various times, it was fitted with 3.5- and 3.6-liter versions and a sequential manual gearbox. Running at tracks such as Suzuka, Spa-Francorchamps, Le Mans, and Monza, the seriously fast GTE placed in the top three 13 times and won four races from 1994 to 1996.
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