We take one last blast in Ferrari’s departing 488 GTB at the Ascari circuit in Spain. Story by Chris Rees.
Achance to drive a Ferrari 488 GTB on the Ascari circuit in Spain? That’s not an offer you refuse any time soon – especially as it’s also a chance to say goodbye to the 488 GTB in style, with the F8 Tributo now assuming its mantle.
I’m trying out Goodyear’s new Eagle F1 SuperSport range, which is the US tyre maker’s new entry to what it calls the “Ultra Ultra High Performance” segment, populated by cars like the 488 GTB – basically a competitor to the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S and Cup 2/Cup 2R. We’re testing the Ferrari 488 GTB on the least extreme of Goodyear’s new three-strong range (SuperSport, SuperSport R and SuperSport RS). That may be surprising considering the SuperSport is intended for hot hatches (think Golf GTI) and high-performance saloons (Alfa Giulia), but in fact it’s also ideal for ‘everyday’ supercars like the Ferrari. The 488 GTB is built for tracks like Ascari.
I’m tackling the fast, super-technical first section of the lap, where you can really build up some speed. It’s rare that you can ever give the 670hp twin-turbo V8 full beans, but there’s one straight where you’re on the gas for a good 20 seconds, and it’s intoxicating.
On Ascari’s quick, often tightening turns, the 488 remains super-stable on its 245/35 ZR20 front and 305/30 ZR20 rear tyres, yet you can feel the edge of grip very progressively when it does arrive.
It’s a beautifully sunny day in southern Spain – what a surprise, right? – and the dry conditions suit the car and tyres perfectly. Although the SuperSport was developed primarily for dry conditions, wet performance is quite feasible, as I discovered when I took an Alpine A110 around a freshly sprinkled section of the track; the tyres are certainly very forgiving when grip is lost.
Next up, Pascal Fabre, a Frenchman who raced in Formula 1 in the 1980s, takes me on some hot laps in the Ferrari. I can report that he’s still got his mojo, demonstrating speed and smoothness in equal measure. What’s the single most impressive thing about the new SuperSport tyre, I ask. “The fact that it’s an excellent road tyre but it also performs very well on the track,” replies Pascal. He also suggests that it’s more forgiving on the limit than some rivals.
25 different sizes of Eagle F1 SuperSport tyre are now available, with fitments from 18in to 21in diameter, 205mm to 305mm width and 30 to 45 profile. The SuperSport R is targeted at performance-focused vehicles (think Ferrari 488 Pista) and full range of 10 will come on stream by the end of the year. As for the SuperSport RS, that’s a road-legal tyre but has racing-type compounds for track use in dry conditions only, with just two sizes available: 265/35 ZR20 and 325/30 ZR21.
Fact is, this is probably my last drive of a brand new 488 GTB. It’s already been withdrawn from sale ahead of the launch of its successor, the F8 Tributo (which we’ll be testing later this summer). You can still buy a 488 Spider, though, and of course the 488 Pista. I’d love to try the latter on Goodyear’s more focused SuperSport R, or indeed the SuperSport RS. Maybe later…