Henry Catchpole: Driving the AF Corse–built Ferrari 458 GTE

by Hagerty
23 June 2023

There are a host of ways to get your hypercar kicks on track these days. Specials like Aston Martin’s Valkyrie AMR Pro or McLaren’s Solus or even Ferrari’s own FXX-K Evo all offer circuit-specific thrills. But if you’ve got a couple of million pounds (real or fantasy) to spend, then how about a genuine race car, with real pedigree? How about a Ferrari 458 GTE that actually raced at Le Mans—twice?

What makes this Ferrari even more appealing is that its road car counterpart, the 458 Speciale, is one of the all-time greats. And, as Henry Catchpole discovered during his drive, there are clear similarities between the road car and race car. The GTE is, however, definitely louder. A lot louder. And the Speciale is hardly known for being a shrinking violet. But with a 4.5-litre, naturally aspirated V8 at its heart, the mighty wall of noise that emanates from the 458 GTE’s exhaust pipes is gloriously ear-splitting.

Chassis 2874 first raced at Le Mans with AF Corse exactly a decade before this year’s victorious Ferrari 499P Hypercar. But arguably its greatest moment at the famous 24-hour race came the year after, in 2014. That year, Sam Bird put the car on pole in the GTE AM category and beat all save one of the Pro cars in the process. It was an extraordinary lap.

In this episode, we’re not at the Circuit de la Sarthe but instead in Austria, at the beautiful and undulating Red Bull Ring. Why? Well, Girardo & Co. (which currently has the car for sale) was part of the excellent Challenge and GT Days event, which hosts a huge collection of Ferrari track cars – everything from a 355 Challenge with a manual gearbox to the latest 488 Challenge Evo. It makes for quite a sight in the pits.

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