For over 40 years Knockhill Racing Circuit has been Scotland’s National Motorsport Centre. It has played host to many of the UK’s top televised races including the world famous British Superbike and British Touring Car events. Knockhill is known to be a truly versatile venue for all events including corporate days, team building, karting, track days, driving experiences and vehicle testing.

Knockhill is Scotland’s only accredited FIA and Motorsport UK approved venue. With extensive and ongoing investment in its facilities it is able to provide new and exciting experiences and racing events, all situated on and around its 1.27 mile long circuit. The facilities also include a hillside rally stage, 500m outdoor karting circuit, restaurants and conferencing facilities.

What was the challenge?

Due to the nature of motorsport racing, certain areas of a racing circuit can begin to show signs of deterioration sooner than other areas. An example would be the racing line where repeated trafficking and high stresses cause a material to fail or reach the end of its design life. Other examples could be surface joints or aggregate/asphalt materials having insufficient properties to withstand motorsport stresses leading to premature failure and eventual breakup of the surface.

The circuit management team required the capability to make informed maintenance intervention decisions to ensure the circuit wasn’t unnecessarily closed for extended periods of time. Having the capabilities to make data-led maintenance decisions would allow the circuit owners to prioritise, design, plan and deliver the most suitable resurfacing works where and when needed.

What was the solution?

Knockhill employed the specialist testing and consultancy services of R3 Ltd. It was at Knockhill where R3 managing director, Dr Campbell Waddell, conducted many tests for his PhD titled The Grip of Motorsport Surfaces. Knockhill took the opportunity to use the data from those tests to build up a detailed understanding of the surface condition of their racing circuit.

During that time Dr Waddell started to develop some of the specialist testing methodologies that R3 now use for their motorsport clients around the World, including Grand Prix and MotoGP circuits. One of the tests developed was R3’s GripMap Method, a test that quantifies racing circuit surface grip.

In the future, R3 will undertake a range of different condition tests at Knockhill that will inform remedial work decisions and allow management to prioritise repair or resurfacing works. This will form part of an overall asset management plan for the racing circuit surface to ensure safe racing conditions. Standard testing will investigate properties such as macrotexture and air void content in the asphalt mix as well as various deterioration modes such as cracking, ravelling, fretting etc.

R3 will use their LiDAR scanner to scan the existing surface which will deliver a precise model of current surface conditions. The point cloud data can also be used as part of Topcon’s SmoothRide Workflow to produce more sustainable, durable and smoother surfaces during resurfacing works.

The LiDAR point cloud data and models allow R3 to identify surface characteristic features unique to race circuit surfaces. This is giving greater insight into how race circuit surfaces evolve over time and help their clients with more accurate asset monitoring and planning. Data from the LiDAR scanner can be overlayed onto historical scan data to predict trends in deterioration that will inform future work programmes including the optimal intervention time for repair or resurfacing works.

R3 can now help contractors and material producers with material development from the development stage through construction of a trial site to condition monitoring of the material offering a built record and full analysis of the material surface condition. On the Knockhill circuit R3 will help their client understand more about the macrotexture of the surface at key points on the track by providing information on rubber build-up, polished aggregate or surface movement changes.

“This kind of specialist testing is needed to keep racing circuits like Knockhill in better condition for longer periods of time. Standard non-specialist testing, which is usually applied to the highway network and uses national highway standards, is ideal for A and B roads or the strategic road network but not applicable to race circuit environments where high speed vehicles are creating unusual forces on the surface of the circuit. If the wrong tests or methodologies are applied to racing circuits, it could end up with serious safety challenges endangering the drivers or riders,” says Dr Waddell.

Once race circuit testing is complete, R3 will produce detailed reports for Knockhill, advising on appropriate remedial works or specialist surface treatments as well as the most suitable materials to be used. The testing provides high levels of quality assurance and control, enabling Knockhill to make time and financial savings on long-term maintenance whilst maintaining safe surface conditions for motorsport racing.

What the client said:

“I have known the team at R3 for some time, especially Dr Waddell who conducted his PHD testing here at Knockhill. The team is extremely knowledgeable, produces detailed and highly accurate reports from its extensive specialist testing but still provide me with highly-technical information in an easy to understand way. I trust them as the ‘go-to’ experts in track surface testing and they will be very much part of our future plans for any work or changes we make to the track in the future. They come highly recommended from me,” says Jillian Shedden, Managing Director, Knockhill Racing Circuit.