The Bugatti circuit of Le Mans starts afresh, thanks to Shell Cariphalte Racetrack
Nov 15, 2016
After over 12 years of heavy use, the Bugatti Circuit of Le Mans has undergone renovation to replace its top layer of asphalt. Despite the excellent structure of the existing track, the renovation was necessary because of the performance needs of the various races its hosts. Motorcycles in particular, are sensitive to the change of adhesion offered by the track throughout its lifetime.
High stress areas on the Bugatti Circuit like the Dunlop curve, the La Chapelle and Garage Vert bends were renovated in recent years, but it was necessary to repave the whole surface layer at this stage to have a homogeneous track surface, eliminating transversal joints.
Ghislain Robert, Technical Director of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) Le Mans Resort, said: “The ability of the track to provide excellent grip in all weather conditions is of paramount importance. This is why we decided to use Shell Cariphalte Racetrack. It provides good adhesion to the aggregates, and offers high drainage for the circuit.”
Thus, the 4.185 km surface of the Bugatti circuit was repaved with Shell Cariphalte Racetrack - an asphalt made from a high performance polymer modified binder and specially developed for racing applications. It has a strong resistance against deformation, and has been used on many tracks around the world, like Nürburgring and Hockenheim in Germany, and Ferrari’s own Fiorano test track in Italy.
“Thanks to Shell we were able to develop an asphalt mix that meets our strict specifications, as well as the requirements of drivers and our high standards as the organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Aside from Shell’s high-performance bitumen solution, we also used a specific type of aggregate which has very high abrasiveness in order to meet the specifications set by tyre manufacturers”, said Ghislain Robert.
The Bugatti Circuit of Le Mans fully resurfaced with Shell Cariphalte Racetrack. Image: F. Delauney
During the renovation carried out by HRC (a subsidiary of Eurovia) from the 10th to 27th of October 2016, more than 50 000 m2 of asphalt were scraped off and replaced. The new track will provide a better grip and a more uniform surface – crucial factors that enhance the performance of racers in competitions such as the 24 hours of Le Mans, the Grand Prix of France Moto, the European Championship of trucks and some other French competitions.
The Le Mans circuit is renowned for being a testing laboratory for next generation vehicles like the prototypes that participate in the 24 hours of Le Mans race.
Pierre Fillon, President of ACO explains, “The last time the Bugatti Circuit was completely refurbished was in 2004. The track was slightly worn, and some parts of the circuit caused discomfort to some riders. This renovation project was entrusted to the expertise of Syndicat Mixte of the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit.
In addition to supplying its bitumen expertise, Shell is also the official fuel supplier of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as for the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the European Le Mans Series (ELMS). This new bitumen is likely to improve the performance and safety of motorcycles and cars on the track, thus contributing to more exciting races here in Le Mans.”
Health and safety, as well as environmental responsibility are core values for the ACO and the Syndricat Mixte of the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit, the project owner. This is why the new asphalt was treated with Shell Bitufresh, a bitumen additive that has been specially formulated to reduce the odour of bitumen during application.
For more information around the circuit repaving, watch this short video.
Shell Bitumen Global:
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Notes to Editors
- Shell is a leader in bitumen technology, and recently published the “Shell Bitumen Handbook, Sixth Edition”, which covers the latest topics in bitumen technology and application.
- Shell Bitumen operates a network of Regional Technical Centres located in key regions (Beijing, China, Strasbourg, France, and Bangkok, Thailand.) Shell has also established its global bitumen R&D Centre in Bangalore, India.
- Shell supplies a wide range of high quality bitumen products, from standard-grade bitumen to special polymer-modified bitumen (PMB), which are marketed under the brand name Shell Cariphalte. Shell Cariphalte has been used in a number of iconic projects for applications such as highways, urban roads and porous asphalts for urban drainage systems. It is ideal for use in heavily trafficked locations such as airfields, racetracks and bus lanes. It can be particularly beneficial in heavy duty applications such as rail, ports, bridge decks, crack relief systems or overlaying concrete pavements and expansion joints.
- Shell is the world’s largest international bitumen marketer, and delivers enough bitumen to pave a one-lane kilometre road every four minutes.
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