Selecting Paul Ricard – High Tech Test Track as the venue for the test drive of the new S60 R was an easy choice for Volvo Car Corporation.
"Our aim is to build the safest cars in the world. So what could be more natural than to test them on the world’s safest track?" says Olle Axelson, senior vice-president Public Affairs at Volvo Car Corporation.
The classic Paul Ricard circuit has been transformed into a fantastic environment for testing and communicating performance cars. The new High Tech Test Track opened for business a few months ago after an intensive year of renovation.
Several Formula 1 teams are included among the regular guests.
"This is the first circuit for the third millennium. Everything about it is new. We have made no compromises. It provides the drivers with maximum safety. It brings out the true pleasure of driving, including top-quality data on and from the track. All in an environment that is comfortable for the teams," says Philippe Gurdjian, president of Paul Ricard – High Tech Test Track.
The new Paul Ricard will be used exclusively for test sessions – no matter whether the honorary guests in the pits are thoroughbred racing cars or new car models, like the Volvo S60 R.
The art of perfection
All the imperfections of the original circuit have been erased to create a design with the right flow.
There are 40 track configurations, varying between 0.8 kilometres and 5.8 kilo-metres. The safety solutions are unique. All the gravel traps have been removed and replaced by three types of run-off zone. The "blue" is made of a more abrasive surface than the track. The "red" zone is made of ultra-abrasive asphalt, while the third, "white" zone consists of a double layer.
The safety package also includes up to 20 rescue teams, a fully-equipped resusci-tation ambulance, three fire-fighting vehicles – and a state-of-the-art medical centre.
Life in the pits
There are 12 pits on three levels. Each pit is equipped with 10 flat-screen televi-sions, providing the team with live pictures from the track and all the relevant data. Each team also has access to a private reception area upstairs.
Flag marshals have been replaced by 33 traffic lights, strategically placed around the circuit. This electronic solution uses the traditional colours of red, yellow, green and blue to inform the drivers of potential hazards.
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