Catesby Tunnel, the world’s largest indoor vehicle test facility is now fully operational for vehicles and taking bookings. The tunnel boasts a perfectly straight 2.7km stretch of tarmac and the spectacularly smooth surface has a tolerance of just +/- 2mm. The tunnel provides the ideal controlled environment for development and mapping work vehicles.
The removal of wind, temperature variations and the smooth indoor nature of the facility takes the repeatability of the data to the next level. Combining the advantages of open-road tests with the predictability and control of laboratory conditions the tunnel really does offer a truly unique approach to testing.
“It’ s better because it’s real. Catesby Tunnel facilitates the measurement of the aerodynamic performance as the vehicle is actually moving through the real world”
One of the first motorsport teams to take their aerodynamic development to the next level were Multimatic Motorsports, who brought their Mazda DPi to the tunnel for an initial aerodynamic evaluation. The team ran the car at speeds of up to 120mph, comparing the results to a comprehensive set of data previously gathered from 40% scale and full-size wind tunnel testing, as well as CFD development and five years competition in IMSA’s top level championship. Initial results indicated a high level of correlation to that existing performance data.
Multimatic Motorsports founder Larry Holt had the following to say:
“Compared to conventional wind tunnel, this is better because it’s real. In a moving ground plane wind tunnel, the car is stationary and the wind is blown over it by a massive fan and flow conditioning set-up, and a belt is arranged to move under the car at a coordinated speed. It’s a very sophisticated configuration but the car is still stationary and that constitutes the not totally real piece. What Catesby facilitates is the measurement of the aerodynamic performance of a vehicle actually moving through the real world”
“The problem with a car moving through the real world is that it is subjected to influences like gusting wind, rain and other changing environmental conditions that effect air density; all of the variables that come with testing in the real world. Catesby provides the real world without the weather. You have a moving car, a real road surface, a controlled environment and we can run 24 hours a day, whatever the season. It is a perfect 2.7kms of controlled atmosphere. That’s the kind of consistency you need when you are chasing incremental gains.”
Multimatic’s test driver on the day was the vastly experienced Andy Priaulx. The three-time FIA World Touring Car Champion had the following to say about the tunnel.
“When you’ve been a racing driver for as long as I have, you don’t often get to experience anything new. When it comes to pure aerodynamic testing, I’m used to engineers studying static car models in wind tunnels with no involvement from the drivers. At the start it felt a little odd to jump into a race car and drive flat out through a 2.7km tunnel, but the team assured me that the end was very clearly marked! Catesby Tunnel is an incredible facility.”
With the tunnel now open for business we can’t wait to begin welcoming more motorsport teams and automotive manufacturers through the doors for testing.
To see just what testing at Catesby Tunnel looks like, check out the video from Multimatic.