High speed oval track to test tyres year-round

9th July 2019
Alex Lynn

Nokian Tyres’ new testing centre in Spain enables year-round testing of summer, all-season and winter tires and the tracks will be ready in 2020. The total investment is estimated to be EUR 60 million. Despite some heavy rain during Easter time, the construction work of the new Nokian Tyres testing centre in Spain is proceeding in schedule.

Probably the most impressive is the oval track with banked curves. The over seven kilometre-long oval track is beginning to take shape and a team from Germany specialised in constructing banked curves of oval tracks is currently working on the topography and the upper layers of the track curves.

The 300-hectare site is situated in Santa Cruz de la Zarza, a small town about one hours’ drive south of the Spanish capital Madrid.

“The testing centre in Spain is the largest single investment in testing the company has made in its history. It will improve our chances to produce compatible products for the growth markets aligned in our strategy. It also supports the work invested in research and development of all our products,” said Juha Pirhonen, Vice President of Tire Technologies.

The main focus is on summer and all-season tires and tires with a high speed rating; there is especially high demand for them in Nokian Tyres’ growth markets in Central Europe and North America, where the company will soon be opening a new factory. Another focus area of the testing centre is to develop each product’s year-round safety properties.

Most of the preparatory work for over ten test tracks of the new testing centre is now ready: top layers of the soil have been removed and the machines have opened the worksites of tracks. The next phase is executing the careful ground construction work for layers of asphalt, which for most of the tracks will be completed in 2020.

The construction work of the oval track is most advanced: The banking of the southern curve and the ground work are ready. Next up are fine profiling and laying the first layers for asphalt. Once ready, the oval track enables testing tires at speeds of up to 300km/h.

The new testing site will be the third for Nokian Tyres. It complements the company’s existing tire testing network, which consists of a 700-hectare site in Ivalo, Finland for testing winter tires and a site near the Finnish headquarters in Nokia.

One of the development areas of Nokian Tyres is the guayule plant, a possible raw material for tires. Nokian Tyres participates in cultivating and studying it together with the local universities and co-operation partners as one possible source of high-quality natural rubber. The plantation is managed by local farmers.

The company has also preserved 25 hectares of land for wildlife protection. This includes constructing a nesting house for hawks and owls and constructing water elements for birds, which will be surveyed during the next three years. Also holm oaks and other trees will be planted on the site.

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