Northampton

Silverstone: Gold medallist's wind tunnel to open at F1 circuit

Wind tunnel Image copyright TotalSim
Image caption The wind tunnels, one of which test aerodynamics, are to open at Silverstone Park

A new sports engineering hub is due to open with wind tunnels designed with the help of Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Chris Boardman.

The facility is at Silverstone Park, based at the Northamptonshire circuit which hosts the British F1 Grand Prix.

It will feature two wind tunnels, one for aerodynamics and one for testing sports fabrics, plus a 3D scanner.

Rob Lewis of project developer TotalSim said: "Organisations will come from around the world to the facility."

He said the hub would "help put the UK at the forefront of the development of aerodynamic technologies".

The hub was partly funded by a £2m grant from the Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Chris Boardman, who won cycling gold at the 1992 Olympics, helped design the two wind tunnels

TotalSim, based in nearby Brackley, was part of British Cycling's "Secret Squirrel Club" set up by Chris Boardman, which was instrumental in Great Britain's success at the last three Olympics.

Since then, it has worked with Boardman on aerodynamics, including setting up a consortium to design and build wind tunnels.

The Olympian said most wind tunnels "were geared up for motor sport" but these new tunnels were for "any athlete who is limited by aero drag and wants to do something about it".

The tunnel at Silverstone can be used to test cycling, wheelchair athletics, speed-skating, skeleton and running.

Mr Lewis hoped the "world class high-tech skills pool around Silverstone" meant they would have a "global appeal".

TotalSim is also involved in the conversion of a former railway tunnel in Catesby which is to be turned into a test centre for motor vehicles.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Silverstone Park is based at the Northamptonshire circuit which is home to the British Grand Prix

Earlier this year the future of the British Grand Prix was secured for the next five years with a new agreement between Formula 1 and Silverstone.

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