The 2012 North American Ferrari Challenge Series begins its 2012 season on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, during the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg race weekend, March 23-25.

Spectators are welcome to attend the race, enjoy paddock areas and an overall Ferrari-festival atmosphere.  VIP Hospitality Packages to the Ferrari Challenge can be purchased by contacting the Ferrari Concierge at 1-866-551-2828.

Regarded as the longest-running of its type in North America, the Ferrari Challenge Series is now beginning its 19th season and offers Ferrari owners the opportunity to compete against each other at world-class venues throughout the U.S. and Canada.  Following this first race in St. Petersburg, Florida, the 2012 Ferrari Challenge will continue to the following:

Infineon Raceway, CA, April 27-29 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, CA, May 18-20 Montreal, Canada, (during the Canadian F1 Grand Prix), June 8-10 Toronto, Canada, July 6-8 Lime Rock Park, CT, July 20-21 concluding at Homestead Miami Speedway, FL, September 28-30

Competitors will exclusively drive the Ferrari 458 Challenge, which debuted at the start of the 2011 Ferrari Challenge series and is derived from the spectacular 458 Italia road car. The fifth generation of Challenge cars, the 458 Challenge has been adapted for competition use with a number of important modifications. While the direct injection 4497 cc V8 remains strictly in production tune, modifications have been made to the gear ratios and calibration of its dual-clutch F1 gearbox to guarantee higher torque at lower revs.  Significant work has also gone into cutting the car's weight, focusing on both the interior and exterior with Ferrari's engineers concentrating in particular on reducing the thickness of bodyshell panels and on using lightweight materials such as carbon-fiber and Lexan.

The 458 Challenge also has a specific suspension set-up, and rides on 19-inch racing rims on Pirelli racing slicks and a ride height lowered by 30mm all around.  Together with the new generation Brembo CCM2 brakes which debuted on the 599XX, a new ABS system, and the adoption of the F1-Trac traction control system (the first in a Ferrari Challenge model), Ferrari's engineers have managed to improve the 458 Challenge's lap time at Fiorano (1'16.5") by two seconds over that of its predecessor, the F430 Challenge.  Equally impressive is the lateral grip of the 458 Challenge – up to 1.6G.

The Ferrari Challenge Series is organized by Ferrari North America, Inc., and sanctioned by the Grand American Road Racing Association.  Complete Challenge information can be found on www.ferrarichallenge.com.

Ferrari North America, Inc. is headquartered in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and is the exclusive North, Central and South American importer of Ferrari vehicles including the 458 Italia, 458 Spider, the California and FF Grand Tourers, and the newly unveiled Ferrari F12berlinetta. For more information please visit www.ferrariusa.com.

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