The Autodromo di Franciacorta is a racetrack in Castrezzato, Italy, which has hosted a variety of prestigious motorsport events throughout the years and most recently, the Porsche Festival in October 2021. In 2019, it was taken over by Porsche to become the eighth Porsche Experience Centre. Following significant investment, the centre was inaugurated in September 2021 by Porsche.
As part of this development for the circuit, a full upgrade of the track was ordered and Italian racetrack specialist Dromo was appointed to design and manage the task, including a full resurfacing design. Dromo had worked with Topcon Positioning on a previous occasion and opted to once more to take advantage of the firm’s technology solutions. The project used the SmoothRide machine control solution, Pavelink cloud data storage and intelligent thermal mapper systems. Together, these solutions helped to keep the project on schedule and also to deliver a quality finish.
Jarno Zaffelli, CEO of studio Dromo, explained: “We partnered with Topcon to get the highest level of precision and data. Using that data, we were able to implement our plans.”
Ahead of the opening of the Porsche Experience Centre, the full 2.52km track was modified and resurfaced over seven days with Topcon’s SmoothRide technology helping to ensure swift and efficient resurfacing. This quick completion was enabled in part by the use of lidar scanning technologies. The lidar system scanned the track and Dromo used the data to generate a 3D cloud model of the surface. The model of the surface was then compared against a model of the design surface to determine what needed to be milled. Using conventional technology, a surveyor would have needed to spend days on the track to stake out all the milling depths, and the crew on the machine would have then needed to make sure the numbers were adhered to using manual methods.
For the milling of the track, the new surface was created using the comparison of the two track models and the data gathered from scanning. This ensured a precise end result, of key importance for safety in high-speed racing, to ensure durability of the final wearing course. The data was shared via the cloud with the milling machines, which were equipped with the latest GPS technology and 3D machine guidance. The technology used ensured an efficient milling process, which allowed a precise grade across the entire circuit.
When paving the new surface, monitoring the paving temperature across the entire width was vital. Topcon’s Thermal Mapper was able to provide information and data in real time to all stakeholders via the cloud. This allowed the temperature of the asphalt to be monitored throughout the process, an essential step as it allowed the paving crew to prevent thermal segregation caused by temperature differences in the mat.
Filippo Piccoli, site engineer at studio Dromo, explained: “By providing constant updates to the operator, the Thermal Mapper allowed the paving process to be adjusted as it happened. Using the up-to-date information meant the operator could change the distance between the paver and the roller, the paving speed and more.
“This was vital in order to stop thermal segregation, which can lead to cracks in the track and low-density asphalt areas. Stopping any thermal segregation by knowing the asphalt mix temperature, and what it is being laid at, prevents damage to the road as it is laid and leads to a durable surface. This is key for safety, especially at high speeds.”
Topcon’s Pavelink and the Thermal Mapper took care of intelligent compaction and logistics management with Sitelink providing a cloud-based solution to store milling data. The project team utilised the data to assess and communicate updates and changes, helping to speed up construction.
Racetrack maintenance can be time-consuming and costly using conventional methods. But using technology such as SmoothRide and the Thermal Mapper allowed the racetrack to be resurfaced cost-effectively and efficiently.
Ivan Zatti, machine control field surveyor at Topcon, said: “With the new surface in place, the mix of chicanes, curves and corners are a perfect place to practice driving techniques and we are sure that Porsche, and its customers, will have some fantastic experiences pushing their cars to the limit.”