Historic and updated Nardo test track re-opens

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An aerial view of the Nardo Technical Center and its 7.8-mile circle track | Porsche Engineering Group photos

Calling the project the “strategic development of the proving ground for future mobility testing,” Porsche Engineering Group has completed the modernization of the historic automotive test tracks and the re-opening of the Nardo Technical Center, in Apulia, Italy.

The centerpiece of the effort was the renovation of the 12.6-kilometer high-speed circular track and other dynamic testing circuits.

Porsche said the project cost €35 million ($40 million) and lasted seven months, with the goal of assuring “that Nardò’s customers are always provided with the perfect conditions to test the vehicles of tomorrow.” 

“Besides the complex asphalting of the renowned circular track, an innovative guardrail system that has been developed by Porsche Engineering specifically for the high-speed testing activities in Nardò, was installed. The works also included the complete renovation of the car dynamic platform with an area of 106,000 square meters.”

The high-speed circular track has been repaved and updated for vehicle testing and development

Though managed since 2012 by Porsche Engineering Group, which provides services to various automotive companies, the Nardo facility is used by automakers and suppliers from around the globe.  

The update, said Antonio Gratis, managing director of the Nardo Technical Center, provides “the opportunity to test the current and future trends in automotive development, for example the fast-charging behavior of electric vehicles, latest driver assistance systems, connected services and autonomous driving.

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“There are several more extensions and renewals planned for the future,” he added. “In addition, we want to promote the growth of the entire local ecosystem with the further development.”

The Nardo facility, founded in 1975 as a Fiat testing facility, includes more than 20 tracks and counts 90 companies among its customers. 

Skid pad

Among the record speeds recorded on its circular track were the first lap at 400 km/h by the Mercedes-Benz C111-IV in 1979, a diesel-powered record by the Volkswagen ARVW in 1980, 24-hour speed records by various Porshce 928s, a methane-powered record by the Bugatti EB110GT in 1994, an electric-car record by the Bertone Z.E.R. in 1994, and a production-car record in 2005 by a Koenigsegg CCR.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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