The working climate at minus 25 degrees

Saariselkä ( Finland ), October 9, 2015

What you wanted to be a child again? Pilot, astronaut, veterinarian or perhaps firefighter? Everything beautiful occupations, certainly, but how about driving a car? All day. These free gasoline, almost an infinite number of sets of tires and all for a good cause. Sounds not exactly wrong, right? Considered Plakativ has Vincent Lopes, who at an early age had gasoline in blood and like Auto Racing drove just snatched this job. The 35 - year-old Belgian is working as a test driver at Goodyear and Dunlop. What Lopes hires everything so that we do not lose on icy and snowy winter roads liability? We visited him ?? 300 km north of the Arctic Circle.

In the Arctic Centre. On the Finnish Pampa

From Munich, we make our way into the Arctic Centre of the tire manufacturer. In a nutshell this means that flying half hours, then change, once more flying and a half hours and during winter sports videos already shown on the cabin screens of machine we face with blueberry juice on a icy temperatures. Then it goes into a 30-minute drive through the White Nothing to leave the last signs of civilization behind us. Then we are here in Goodyear Dunlop test center. It was opened in 2014, covers the Finnish Pampa near Saariselkä an area of ​​25 hectares and will now serve until March each year from November as a testing ground for winter tires due to the stable freezer conditions.

No supercars. VW Golf VII and BMW 3 Series have rich

Here Mr. Lopes waiting 3 with a VW Golf VII and a BMW. Where are the supercars, we wonder? Where are the vehicles that have the mouth - particularly - well-to-top - factor? The Belgian laughs and says: ". . People often think that a test driver always drive only powerful cars on legendary tracks We do indeed occasionally, but it's a tiny part of our work " And the rest? That's " a very exact science that need to learn and requires a lot of time. " And what would be more scientific than a Golf or a 3 Series with all sorts of objective measurement tools and a subjective Popometer that can boast an engineering degree?

A typical day of a winter tire test driver begins

So the typical day of a winter tire test driver does not begin with wild drift maneuvers on frozen lakes, but in the office, with a so-called " Request". This test request is the day's program fits before to the prevailing conditions such as soil and air temperature, snow conditions and time of day. Which vehicle which tire size, which test, everything is statically defined and Feierabend is only when a detailed report on the request exists. Pro Winter driver, this means that four to eight sets of tires and 15 to 20 times tire changes. Every day. In total, 2,500 prototypes and more than 300,000 test kilometers per year be burned. Over two full winter seasons ...

Snow braking and accelerating on snow

Our TestRequest provides for today first snow braking and accelerating on snow in a VW Golf VII, which was frosted with the Goodyear Ultra Grip Performance. For this purpose, the compact car is accelerated either from a standstill to a speed of 30 km / h or braked from 50 km / h on two km / h. Be recorded by means of GPS measurement, the required time and the distance traveled. Over and over again. And again. " You have to learn to do the job very disciplined, so that the different tests are also meaningful and comparable. It puts a sometimes obsessive behavior on the day, just to make sure everything goes accurately ," said Lopes.

Who " objectively " well may, should also "subjective" test

Some variety promises the second part of the day anyway: We to rise in a rear-drive BMW 320i on Dunlop Winter Sport 5. Now it will be to measure the handling characteristics of the tires on snow and learn simultaneously. Sounds finally after driftigen Heck trips, but again, is determined primarily by GPS device an objective time on a one kilometer long circuit, bringing instead a lascivious rear wobble. Anders is here but that now also incorporate subjective driving impressions of each tester in the evaluation. Another time-consuming task, because " even if someone has good driving skills, it takes several years until one is formed at a good tire tester ," says Lopes. Especially when subjective part of the job " experience and knowledge are needed in order to evaluate the behavior of the tire under different conditions can ," said the 35-year-old continued.

Winter always is. At least somewhere in the world

And what happens when the Finnish spring the freezing temperatures, the snow and the darkness is replaced by mosquitoes? Then the entire Goodyear - Dunlop Winter Test circus moves to the southern hemisphere. " In the summer we are starting in August in New Zealand. This allows us to test over almost the whole year on snow and thus to shorten the development time of winter tires. "

Maybe your new job?

So if you have no problem with weeks of darkness, you even after two and a half months do not mind the spatial seclusion and you agree with an average annual salary of an engineer, then maybe you should be winter tire test driver. Maybe for the next generation of ice - and - snow - tires because the tires Goodyear Ultra Grip Performance and more designed for dynamic handling Dunlop Winter Sport 5 have already been completed . (ml)