The Bugatti Circuit of Le Mans has had its 12-year-old top layer of asphalt replaced.
The new race track will provide better grip and a more uniform riding surface, both critical elements that will enhance racing performance in the competitions, such as the 24 hours Le Mans, the Grand Prix of France Moto, and the European Championship of trucks.
Over the years, the high-stress areas of the Circuit such as the Dunlop curve, the La Chapelle and Garage Vert bends have been rehabilitated, and the existing track surface was in excellent condition, but the new surface dressing was required to maintain the performance needs of the high-speed track and to repave the whole track with a homogeneous road surface to eliminate any transversal joints.
Pierre Fillon, President of Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) explained “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.”
Ghislain Robert, Technical Director of the 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.”
In particular motorcycles are sensitive to the variation of adhesion offered by the track throughout its lifecycle.
The 4,185 kilometre race track of the Bugatti circuit was repaved using 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, including the Nürburgring and Hockenheim in Germany, and Ferrari’s own Fiorano test track, near Maranello in Italy.
Ghislain Robert added “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.”
Health and safety, as well as environmental concerns where one reason the new asphalt was treated using Shell Bitufresh, a bitumen additive that has been specially formulated to reduce the odour of bitumen during application.
The rehabilitation was carried out in October 2016 by HRC (a subsidiary of Eurovia). More than 50,000 metres² of asphalt was removed and repaved.
Le Mans is famous for its use as a testing laboratory for the next generation of vehicles, including the prototypes that take part in the 24 hours Le Mans race.