Adding to its string of world firsts, the Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track has now developed and installed a unique watering system on the 4.2km circuit to enable visiting teams to replicate wet conditions.

The system has the ability to create a variety of different 'wet track' conditions on 20 of the 40 track solutions, and adds the range of developments at the south of France track which already includes safety initiatives, electronic control equipment and exceptional architectural design.

Ricard already acts as the 'home' test track of the factory Toyota F1 team, but is beginning to attract attention from rival operations seeking a complete test facility.

"Our main objective at Paul Ricard HTTT has always been to provide the most technologically advance and complete test facility," said Philippe Gurdjian, venue president, "For the past two years, we have been investigating the best way to give teams the opportunity of doing 'wet track' testing whenever required.

"It was quite a challenge as the solution had to be efficient and quick, being able to produce a variety of different track conditions on a number of track configurations. The answer came in the form of some very sophisticated computer software that has been specifically developed to manage the 315 sprinklers that have been located around the track and 35 electronic valves that control the amount and where the water is placed. We can now 'water' and simulate many different track conditions on all 20 of the track solutions."

Depending on the requirements of the team, the track can be watered partially or totally using specially filtered water from a series of ponds that have been created around the track and used to store the water. Over 60 per cent of the water used is recycled by means of a creative drainage system that recovers the water as it drains off the track.

This innovative computer controlled watering system gives teams the ability to test in conditions similar to those found on many of the grand prix circuits around the globe and will be an exceptionally useful tool for a variety of users including Formula One, prototype and GT racing teams. It is anticipated that many of the car and tyre manufacturers will also be users of this unique facility for tests and product presentations.

"This automatic system, which is managed from the Track Video Control Room, can water the track in a very short space of time," Gurdjian explained, "In less than 15 minutes, the track can be flooded on the longest possible circuit available (4.087km).

"In this region of France, where you can have as much as 300 days of sunshine a year, this unique and innovative system is definitely an asset, maintaining the Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track as the most modern, sophisticated and advanced test facility available."

The new automatic watering system was fully operational as of 31 October 2002.