Making its debut in 1995, the Ferrari F355 Challenge was designed specifically for use in the Ferrari Challenge series. The earliest F355 Challenges were road cars modified by official dealers using a conversion kit from the Ferrari factory, just like the earlier 348 Challenge. Each car was powered by a 380 horsepower, 3.5-litre V-8 engine, coupled to a six-speed manual gearbox. With each passing year, Challenge cars were supplied from the factory with an increasing number of performance components, reducing the amount of conversion work required by dealers. By 1998, Ferrari took the decision to build all Challenge cars in- house, and all subsequent F355 Challenges were built at the Maranello factory.
But for the real racers, the Challenge car was not enough! As it was fully based on the road car, it was neither competitive enough for international racing series, nor was it homologated for anything else than the Ferrari Challenge series.
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Before the 355 model, racing teams were able to purchase the 348 GT/ Competizione or even the ultra rare 348 GT/LM, both built by Michelotto in Padua for Ferrari. These models were fully homologated for international racing and especially the GT/LMs proved to be competitive cars, even at the 24h of Le Mans!
But when the F355 came out, Ferrari (and Michelotto) were too busy building and developing the Ferrari 333SP as well as the racing versions of the F40, the F40 LM and the upgraded F40 GTE, so there was capacity to build a upgraded version of the F355 Challenge. Cristiano Michelotto also confirmed us in a recent conversation, that they very early started to work on the Ferrari 360 GT and N/GT, so the F355 was simply left out!
But Italy would not be Italy, if there were not some motorsport enthusiasts who simply wanted more, that brings us to our car …
Among the racing teams who wanted a bit more out of the F355 model range than a Challenge version, was the Italian company Supertech of Franco Scapini and his father. Franco Scapini was a successful racing driver who even made it up to Formula 1 as a test driver and raced at the 24 hours of Le Mans in a Lancia LC2 and a Spice SE88. Scapini almost retired from racing in 1991, but a friend of his father convinced him to race in the 1997 Italian Ferrari Challenge with a brand new Ferrari F355 Challenge from the Ferrari dealership in Modena, where he finished several times on the podium. The problem was that Scapini Junior was pretty bored of these Challenge cars, they were just too slow for him.
In a recent article he confesses „I did it for my father“. So the idea was born to start a new project, the Ferrari F355 GT3 by Supertech. Soon, the „Le Mans blu“ colored F355 Challenge with chassis number ZFFPR41B000104675 was completely stripped in Scapini Seniors workshop, which was an official Ferrari service point for over 30 years. Every component was checked for potential improvements. Scapini: We reconstructed everything: suspension, engine, chassis and body parts. We did everything ourselves and in the workshop at my father’s in Gallarate (VA). The car, in the end, came out really well, a real racing tool. I had done it the way I wanted and meant it.“ The car is now lighter, has an upgraded aero kit, completely revised suspension and brakes, a proper racing clutch and an engine which was good for 430hp at 9.200rpm. After a lot of testing and improving, it was time to race the car.
The car was raced successfully by Franco Scapini, both in Europe as well as the USA. The original log book that comes with the car documents the European races in France, Italy and Spain. Scapini won the GT3 class in the Italian GT championship in Misano in 1999. He also had a crazy race in the rain in Dijon that year that he remembers well: „ Next appointment, Magny Cours. With Andrea Garbagnati unavailable due to work commitments, I crew with Stefano Bucci. We arrive at Magny Cours and it’s raining, among other things I have a fever. We do the tests, everything’s OK. We qualify the car each a practice session for the respective races on Sunday: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Stefano starts in race 1 wet, goes dry, SC several times, had started 12th in class and got there…. Race 2 I start with fever, but I climb well, it’s wet, it’s not hot and this helps me. I engage in a tough battle with a Porsche in front of me. At the wheel, while I was trying to do my best, I was asking myself „who drives so fast on water?“…. In GT races there are so many of you that you don’t know who is at the wheel at that moment, then between the spray and the clouds of water you could hardly see anything. Eh nothing, at the end of the race I find out that it was Jean Pierre Jarier!!! Anyway, I retired about halfway through the race because a water hose burst when I was 8th overall and 2nd GT3. It was wet, but the car was running even though it was quite difficult to drive. Very extreme!“
Next up was the greater challenge – to race at the famous 24 hours of Daytona!
In 1999 Scapini teamed up with Pierangelo Masselli, Marco de Iturbe, Gianluca de Lorenzi and Gianni Biava to run the car under the sponsorship of Ferrari of Central Florida. After a long race they finished in 32nd position overall and 12th in class.
In 2000 the car was again entered at the 24 hours of Daytona, this time driven by Franco Scapini, ex-F1 driver Ivan Capelli, Pierangelo Masselli and Erich Prinoth under the banner of Franco Scapini Motorsport. Unfortunately they did not finish the race due to electrical problems.
In 2001 Scapini sold the car and it was once more entered at the 24 hours of Daytona under the team name Mastercar SRL. The car was driven by Anton Smekalkin, Eric van de Vyver, Christian Morini and Sergey Krylov.
Today the car is presented as it raced in 2000. The old roll bar has been carefully replaced with a new one to make the car eligible for historic racing. The engine has been overhauled just recently and the car has been serviced. Today the car is highly eligible for historic racing as the Peter Auto Series, Masters Series, historic Daytona 24, the Challenge and GT days as well the the German Ferrari Club racing series only to mention a few.
With the car comes a very comprehensive history file that includes the old Italian registration documents, the original vehicle log book as well as some nice period articles and photos.