Tyre testing isn't as easy as it seems on the surface. As a rule, it requires a large amount of time, money, travel, expensive facilities and most importantly, the weather on your side.
The hardest type of tyre testing to undertake is all season or winter tyre testing, as historically you're travelling to two very different locations to get dry, wet, snow and ice data, at different times of year, and at the mercy of the weather. That was, until now.
The Finnish company Test World, which is part of Millbrook proving grounds (located in Bedfordshire) have just opened an extension of their giant winter testing facility in Ivalo. It also happens to contain the world's first fully indoor snow handling track!
"Indoor 2" is a 350m closed circuit snow loop, which when combined with the other four indoor tracks at Test World, allows the customers access to fully climate controlled indoor dry, wet, snow and ice surfaces, 365 days a year.
Indoor 4 and 5 are an extension of Indoor 1 and 3 (can you spot the naming convention), which are two 405 meter straight tracks, with independant air and surface temperature control, R117 compliant surface and the ability to give testers, dry, wet, aquaplaning, snow and ice testing. All indoors!
Not only does this give tyre testers such as myself the ability to test snow handling in stable -10c conditions in the middle of summer, but it also means we can test dry, wet, snow and ice in a single location, super efficiently, without fear of weather delaying plans or having to travel to both the south of Europe, and the arctic circle.
The new Test World facility will allow tyre manufacturers to develop and test new tyres in shorter amounts of time, while saving money. This means customers should see a shorter release cycle of better developed products in the future, all at a lower cost.
The other benefit of the new indoor 4 and indoor 5 layout is answering a question we've not been able to answer up until now, a video looking at how tyres perform at different temperatures.
Historically this has been impossible to test accurately, as by the time your test facility had changed seasons, the track surface would have evolved and yield different results. Now, with Test worlds new offering, we can precisely test summer, all season, and winter tyres at 3c, 5c, 10c, 15c and 20c, across the same day on the same surface, ensuring the results produced are as accurate as possible.
In the world of tyre testing, Test World have just made a big leap forward.