Porsche's perfectly circular 12.6 km (7.8 mile) test track at Nardò in Southern Italy has been renovated and is again open for business. Far more than just the massive banked high speed test track, the Nardò Technical Center contains over 20 test tracks on an area of more than 700 hectares, and has been used by 90 automotive companies for testing in the past.
Opened in 1975, the high-speed circular track was created so that car companies could test their cars under the most extreme conditions, and has been the venue for a number of famous record attempts over the years.
Purchased by Porsche in 2012, the facility has been closed for renovation over the last six months, during which 35 million euros has been spent resurfacing the circular track and upgrading numerous other facilities within the complex.
One of the few test tracks in the world suitable for extreme speeds, the perfectly circular banked test track has four lanes, with increasing camber on each lane. The inner lane is suitable for speeds up to 130 km/h with no steering input required, and the speeds increase to 170 km/h, 210 km/h and 240 km/h respectively.
Most famously, the Nardò facility has been used for a number of records over the years, including the first time that mankind lapped any course at over 400 km/h in 1979, when a Mercedes-Benz C111-IV completed a lap of the 12.6 km circuit in 1 minute and 57 seconds, averaging 403.978 km/h. The previous world record average speed for a lap of any circuit had been established in 1975 at 355.854 km/h by a 1,000 hp racing car during the American Can-Am series.
Mercedes-Benz has been a regular customer of Nardò, using it for numerous long distance records including launching the 190 E 2.3-16 by setting several world long-distance records over 25,000 kilometers, 25,000 miles, and 50,000 kilometers, with average speeds of almost 250 km/h at Nardò.
In 1980 a Volkswagen ARVW set the speed record for a diesel car at Nardò, reaching a speed of 362.07 km/h.
Prior to purchasing the Nardò facility, Porsche was also a regular visitor, covering 6,033 kilometers in 24 hours in 928 S in 1982 at an average speed of 251.4 km/h, then again in 1993 when a 928 GTS traveled 6,377.25 km in 24 hours at an average speed of 265.72 km/h.
During Bugatti's second incarnation, a Bugatti EB110GT set a speed record for a methane-powered car at Nardò, clocking 344.7 km/h on July 2, 1994.
Just when this fine publication was getting underway, on February 23, 2002, a Volkswagen W12 set a world distance record for 24 hours at Nardò, when it covered 7,740.576 km at an average speed of 322.891 km/h.
Most recently, Nardò was the venue for the world speed record for a production car when, a Koenigsegg CCR ran 388 km/h on February 28, 2005.
Now that the track has been resurfaced, no doubt we'll see the Nardò name in the news once more.
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