Rain, snow, hail or sleet used to disrupt testing at our premier track in Europe and see the test team decamp to sunnier climes on a regular basis.
Now a giant “hairdryer” – and a moment’s inspiration – are helping to keep the track open, all year round.
It was while at Schipol Airport, in the Netherlands, that the team based at nearby Lommel (where it rains for a third of the year), in Belgium, spotted the potential solution.
They could see one of the jet-powered air dryers clearing the runway for their flight to Italy. Could the equipment perform a similar job for them?
The test team contacted Liberty Gas Turbine, in the Netherlands, who make the Liberty LGH 2500 Turbojet dryers – specifically for airport use – and arranged a trial for that very afternoon.
Able to achieve temperatures of 550 C and generate the same power as 32 hot hatch Ford Focus ST cars, it cleared the 1,000 metres of track required for testing in just two to three hours.
The track dryer is particularly useful when it snows, being brought in to clear any ice and water that remains after the team has first cleared the snow.
Ford is now the first auto manufacturer to regularly use such a giant “hairdryer” – and testing takes place at Lommel day-in day-out, whatever the weather.
|Ford Fiesta 1.0-litre EcoBoost||Liberty LGH 2500 Turbojet|
|Max power||99 bhp at 6,000 revolutions per minute||8,000 bhp at 15,600 revolutions per minute|
|Cylinders||3||1 HUGE cylinder|
|Engine Weight (kilos)||97 kilogrammes||321 kilogrammes|
|Engine length||Fits on a piece of A4 paper||Fits on a large trailer|
|Kerb weight||1,101 kilogrammes||8,000 kilogrammes|
|Top speed mph||116 MPH||25 MPH (Tractor-Assisted)|