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iRacing Guide: Ferrari 296 GT3

Despite its recent release, the Ferrari 296 GT3 has quickly become one of iRacing’s most popular GT cars.

Ferrari’s latest and greatest GT car, the 296 GT3 was a welcome addition to iRacing with the Porsche 963 GTP, Acura ARX-06 GTP, Super Formula SF-23 and the NASCAR Pontiac Grand Prix 1987. 

It is a key part of iRacing’s progress tree that’s available to race in series spanning almost the entire licence ladder, so let’s learn more about it.

Introducing Ferrari 296 GT3

Ferrari introduced its new GT3 car in July 2022, with its first race in the real world at the 2023 24 Hours of Daytona. It represents the successor to the hugely popular 488 GT3 Evo and aims to gradually replace it in racing series across the globe.

Compared to its predecessor, the 296 GT3 is an entirely new car with a more modern look. Ferrari has replaced the 488’s 3.9-litre V8 engine with a 2.9-litre V6 engine, albeit with the same 600 horsepower, to move away from a V8 drivetrain for the first time in the history of their GT3 programme. The result is a distinctly different sound and but a silky smooth power delivery – turbo lag a thing of the past.

Looking at the rest of the 296 GT3, a significant change compared to the 488 GT3 Evo comes in its aerodynamic package: the 296 GT3 produces 20% more downforce than the 488 Evo. 

The 296 GT3 was added to iRacing during 2023 Season 4 and replaced the 488 GT3 Evo in all official sessions. The 296 GT3 has quickly become one of the most popular cars on the platform because it offers access to many special events and nine regular championships across different licences.

The Basic Car Characteristics

As a mid-engine car, the new Ferrari feels balanced and does not have significant issues you need to fix with the setup immediately. On the one hand, you can get good performance with the baseline setup, and you may find the Ferrari 296 GT3 more enjoyable to drive in fixed setup championships than the 488 GT3 Evo. However, adjusting the setup is also more challenging because many changes are track-specific and involve trade-offs.

With the baseline setup, the car has some entry understeer and exit oversteer when you get on the power. The 296 GT3 can attack curbs on the corner entry well, but on exits, it depends on whether you can stabilise the car early and minimise the impact on the acceleration.

There are a few critical areas of the setup for this car:

  • Firstly, the weight and aero balance between the front and the rear. Generally, you want a low ride height at the front (regulated by the spring perch offset) to improve the front tyre grip and shift the balance to less corner entry understeer. You should balance this adjustment with the rear wing to add downforce at the rear and avoid snap oversteer, especially on circuits with medium-speed corners.
  • Secondly, damper settings are essential for this car to maximise performance on the turn-entry and curbs. Typically, you want to stiffen front rebound dampers to improve the initial turn-in as the brakes are released at the corner entry. Rear dampers are usually softer than the front for better rear grip when you open the throttle.
  • Finally, finding a good balance between front and rear anti-roll bars is crucial for optimal corner grip. The optimal settings depend on the circuit, but often, you need stiffer front anti-roll bars at the front compared to the rear.

If you need help mastering the Ferrari 296 GT3, make sure to check out one of Coach Dave Academy’s Lap Guides, such as this one with Yuri Kasdorp at Monza.


WHERE TO FIND A SETUP

Extracting the most from the Ferrari 296 GT3 can be tricky but we have made it easy with a Coach Dave Academy iRacing Setup Subscription. Updated every week with new setups for every track in the IMSA & VRS Series, these setups are developed by professional iRacing drivers and engineers. Our iRacing Setup Subscription allows you to focus purely on your on-track performance. And, with access to our free Coach Dave Delta app, installing them and tracking your laps couldn’t be any easier.

  • Race setups
  • Qualifying setups
  • Onboard laps
  • Data packs
  • All crafted by professionals

Where You Can Race It

D licence

Acquiring a D-tier road licence grants access to the Ferrari GT3 Challenge, the entry-level series for this car. Only the Ferrari 296 GT3 is allowed to participate in this championship, and it uses a fixed setup, allowing you to focus on driving. However, the Ferrari GT3 Challenge is hardly a rookie series because you can often see up to five splits in European prime time, with 8,000+ iRating drivers in competition.

Circuits change weekly throughout the season, featuring a mix of famous (Spa, Zandvoort, Road Atlanta, Watkins Glen and others) and less-known circuits (Rudskogen or Ledenon). Five circuits are a part of the base subscription, and seven are DLCs, which cost 15.95 USD each. If you need some guidance about which circuits to get your hands on, make sure to read our guide to the best tracks to buy in iRacing.

Unfortunately, the calendar significantly differs from the one used in higher licence championships and shares only a few circuits. If you want better value for tracks used with this car, focus on the GT Endurance VRS Series, the GT Sprint VRS Series and the GT3 Fanatec Challenge because they use similar calendars.

Key facts about the Ferrari GT3 Challenge:

  • Individual championship with a fixed setup
  • Races appear every hour and last 15 minutes
  • Rolling start, spec series
  • All driving aids are allowed
  • Up to 20 drivers on the grid

The second championship available to D licence racers is the Nurburgring Endurance Championship. As an endurance, team-based, multiclass series, it is a considerable step up in difficulty compared to the Ferrari GT3 challenge with a single car and a fixed setup. Due to restrictions enforced by iRacing, only four GT3 cars are available here: the BMW M4 GT3, Ferrari 296 GT3, Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo and Porsche 992 GT3 R.

4-hour races follow a strict schedule and start only on Saturdays (7:00 and 17:30 GMT) and Sundays (1:00 and 13:00 GMT). As the name suggests, this championship uses only one circuit – the Nürburgring Combined Gesamtstrecke VLN. It costs 31.90 USD because you must buy Nürburgring Nordschleife and Nürburgring Grand Prix to race on it.

Key facts about the Nurburgring Endurance Championship:

  • Team championship with an open setup
  • Races start only on the weekends and last 4 hours
  • Rolling start, four classes (GT3, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, GT4 and Toyota GR86)
  • All driving aids are allowed
  • Up to 60 teams on the grid

C licence

The C licence unlocks the GT Endurance VRS Series, the first of several championships in iRacing focused on GT3 class racing. Here, you can participate in one of many GT3 cars, from the modern Porsche 911 GT3 R (992), released in summer 2023, to the vintage Ford GT GT3 or McLaren MP4-12C GT3 that have been a part of iRacing for longer than ten years.

You must register in this championship as a team, including at least two drivers. 3-hour races follow a strict schedule and start only on Saturdays (9:00 and 19:00 GMT) and Sundays (17:00 GMT). Out of 12 circuits in the calendar, only one is a part of the base subscription, and the rest are DLCs.

Key facts about the GT Endurance VRS Series:

  • Team championship with an open setup
  • Races start only on the weekends and last 3 hours
  • Rolling start, only GT3 class cars
  • All driving aids are allowed
  • Up to 60 teams on the grid

B licence

Four more championships are available with the B licence: two multiclass (IMSA Endurance Series and Global Endurance Pure Driving School Tour) and two for GT3 class cars only (GT3 Fanatec Challenge and GT Sprint VRS Series). The GT3 vehicle selection in these championships is identical to the GT Endurance VRS Series.

The most casual choice is the GT3 Fanatec Challenge. It shares many similarities with the entry-level Ferrari GT3 Challenge: short 20-minute races with a fixed setup and up to 20 drivers on the grid. However, drivers cannot use driving aids, and the calendar is similar to the C licence GT Endurance VRS Series.

Key facts about the GT3 Fanatec Challenge:

  • Individual championship with a fixed setup
  • Races appear every 2 hours and last 20 minutes
  • Rolling start, only GT3 class cars
  • All driving aids are disallowed
  • Up to 20 drivers on the grid

The GT Sprint VRS Series is essentially the same as the GT Endurance VRS Series, but with individual results scored and a race length reduced to 40 minutes. The selection of vehicles and the calendar are the same.

  • If you regularly race in the Ferrari 296 GT3 in these championships and want all the setup work covered, check out Coach Dave Academy’s setup packs for the GT VRS Sprint Series and the IMSA iRacing Series, which include setups for all tracks used in the 2023 Season 3.

The IMSA Endurance Series is another option to get into multiclass racing with the Ferrari 296 GT3. In this championship, you will race in GT3 cars with modern LMP2 and LMDh prototypes. Races last 160 minutes, so although this is an endurance championship and you must enter as a team, it can include only one driver. 

Races occur only on weekends, with three slots on Saturdays (2:00, 7:00 and 18:00 GMT) and one on Sundays (14:00 GMT). The schedule for 2023 Season 4 includes only circuits in the US (Indianapolis, Road Atlanta, Watkins Glen, Sebring, Road America and Daytona).

Key facts about the IMSA Endurance Series:

  • Team championship (but you can race alone) with an open setup 
  • Races appear only during weekends
  • Rolling start, multiclass (GT3, LMP2 and LMDh prototypes)
  • All driving aids are disallowed
  • Up to 50 teams on the grid

The Global Endurance Pure Driving School Tour has the same cars to choose from, but races last 6 hours, and the calendar includes only circuits in Asia (Fuji) and Europe (Spa, Le Mans, Monza, Red Bull Ring and Silverstone). All teams must consist of at least two drivers. Races are scheduled only on Saturday (7:00 and 18:00 GMT) and Sunday (14:00 GMT).

Key facts about the Global Endurance Pure Driving School Tour:

  • Team championship with an open setup 
  • Races appear only during weekends
  • Rolling start, multiclass (GT3, LMP2 and LMDh prototypes)
  • All driving aids are disallowed
  • Up to 50 teams on the grid

A licence

At the top of the iRacing championship ladder is the IMSA iRacing Series, available for A licence drivers. You can participate in the open or fixed setup championship – apart from the setup restrictions, they are almost the same.

This series is a multiclass individual championship with 45-minute races (35 minutes for the fixed setup series) and up to 50 drivers on the grid. The calendar includes 12 famous circuits from Europe, America and Asia. All tracks are DLCs, and the entire calendar will cost up to 190 USD, depending on the discounts for bulk purchases.

Key facts about the IMSA iRacing Series:

  • Individual championship with open or fixed setup 
  • Races appear every 2 hours and last 45 minutes for the open setup version and 35 minutes for the fixed setup version
  • Rolling start, multiclass (GT3, LMP2 and LMDh prototypes)
  • All driving aids are disallowed
  • Up to 50 teams on the grid

Final Thoughts

The Ferrari 296 GT3 brings in a fresh look for the roster of the GT3 cars. The community has much anticipated this car, and it has become one of the most popular road cars in iRacing. This car is included in an incredible nine regular championships so that you can find a suitable race regardless of your preferences, timezone and licence. Regarding speed, the Ferrari 296 GT3 can keep up with other GT3s and show a competitive pace among Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, and others.

If you are invested in GT3 class racing and need setups for these cars, consider buying access to Coach Dave Academy iRacing Setup Subscription, which covers all popular GT3 cars, circuits, and championships. Alongside the free-to-download Coach Dave Delta app, it will massively reduce the time you need to develop and manage setups.

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