It has been my wish to get parts of the MK track re-surfaced for a number of years now. Long standing customers will know that the entry to turn two was extremely bumpy and uneven which made braking on the racing line quite tricky and also the run down from turn seven to turn eight was beginning to break up and become rippled.
These track issues had a number of knock-on effects including extra crash damage, chassis cracking and it was a little difficult to drive those parts of the track especially for newcomers.
So, before the 24hour race, we decided to bite the bullet and have 125 metres of the track torn up and re-laid.
A significant amount of research was necessary before taking the plunge as it was absolutely essential to get the correct material. Despite weighing less than 140kg, the karts put an enormous amount of load into an asphalt surface. The small contact patch and relatively high grip means the forces going into the track are significantly higher than any normal road surface. Also, it can’t be too smooth as a tightly bonded material with very small gaps means any water would stay on the top and reduce grip in the wet. I have to credit Charlie our CEO for making me rethink the material as the mix I had originally chosen would have probably been too smooth. His experience of resurfacing parts of the track some years ago was invaluable.
Our contractors – Edwards Surfacing – duly turned up bright and early on Monday morning ready to rip up our race track. By lunch time, 125m of race track was no more and it was only mildly worrying with the 24hour race just days away.
The speed and accuracy of the planing team was astonishing. The curves of turn eight entry posed an interesting challenge for them but the surface came off absolutely spot on, smack bang against the concrete kerbing to a depth of 40mm.
On Tuesday morning, the surfacing team arrived with 9.5 tonnes of specially made asphalt. By 1.30pm, the track was finished, the surface radiating heat like an enormous black oven. With 24 hours to cure and cool, track events could begin again on Wednesday afternoon.
The results have been nothing short of amazing. Lap times have reduced by 1.5-2.0 seconds per lap and drivers have had to adapt their braking and turn in points to compensate for the extra grip. The ripples at turn two are gone and braking is so much easier and safer. I was a little worried about the amount of grip in the wet on a new surface. It takes months for the oils to come out of the surface and the material to oxidise but I need not have worried; the performance of the new surface in the wet is fantastic. At turn eight, you can brake almost as late as in the dry but be careful, mid way through the corner the surface changes back to the old part and grip washes away.
It will take time for customers to adapt to the changes in the track, but once again Daytona is investing in our facilities to make sure we give you the best experience possible.