Inaugurated in 1963, the Zolder circuit in Limburg is famous among motorsport and 2-wheel enthusiasts alike and welcomes more than 400,000 spectators every year. Since its opening, the circuit has hosted numerous Belgian and international motorsport events, including the Belgian F1 Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Zolder, as well as many road and cyclo-cross championships. Throughout the year, the circuit is regularly open from 5pm to 9pm to the public so that cycling enthusiasts can train in safety on this magnificent track.
Given the variety of competitions and events that take place on the circuit, with cars reaching speeds of up to 250km/h, good quality lighting is essential. In 2022. the circuit’s operator, vzw Terlaemen decided to upgrade the lighting on the track to LED technology. They wanted a lighting solution that would:
- improve visibility and comfort on the track for cyclists and racing drivers;
- enhance safety at motor racing events by improving flag colour recognition;
- reduce light pollution for local residents;
- increase the visibility of advertising billboards.
Safety on a particularly technical track
The circuit, which is 4 km long with 10 corners including 3 chicanes and 2 long straights, is known for being technical and demanding. It is a challenge for the drivers, who must be extremely precise in their driving. The lighting must provide perfect visibility all along the track and not dazzle or cause eye strain. To enhance safety on the track, we took the original lighting design and updated it with our IZYLUM 5, OMNISTAR and INDU FLOOD 3 luminaires with asymmetric optics. The luminaires were to be installed on the existing 15m high masts, some of which are 50m from the track, and on 12m high masts in the start-finish area.
The new LED lighting provides an average of 20 lux on the track and in the start-finish area with 55% uniformity, and an average of 6 to 9 lux in the corners. This is fully in line with the requirements to ensure the safety of the drivers.
In addition, as LEDs direct the light more precisely, the difference between the minimum and maximum lighting levels is less than with the old HID lighting, creating less of a 'beam’ effect. The new light levels and uniformity have improved both visibility and comfort for drivers and cyclists.
The luminaires are tilted at a maximum of 10° and deliver an asymmetrical lighting. A symmetrical photometry or a greater tilt of the luminaires would have dazzled the drivers and compromised their safety.
The right colour temperature to enhance safety
The luminaires are fitted with neutral white LEDs (4,000K) as drivers need to concentrate and be alert at all times. A neutral white light also reduces eye fatigue. The LEDs provide a high colour rendering index (CRI >70) so that all objects are clearly visible which is essential for safety. Given the speed of the cars, it is vital that drivers can see the colours of the flags.
Drivers, staff and spectators all feel that the track is better lit than with the old HID floodlights which produced a yellow light that was not as close to daylight as LED lighting.
High-power sports lighting without light pollution
The management of the Zolder circuit has always been keen to develop its activities in a way that respects the environment and the people living near the circuit. They were very conscious of avoiding any light pollution.
Thanks to our expertise in developing photometric engines, the new LED floodlights direct the light precisely where it is needed. With our asymmetric lighting solution, the light is even more concentrated on the track, preventing light pollution in the surrounding area.
LED sports lighting saves energy
With rising energy prices, the management, like all sports infrastructure managers, has been looking for solutions to reduce its operating costs. A major advantage of LED technology is its low energy consumption and high luminous efficacy of 160 to 190 lm/W. With the right light distribution, LED luminaires can significantly reduce energy consumption.
The old lighting, consisting of 111 497W luminaires and 7 301W luminaires, had a total power consumption of 57.27kW. The new installation includes:
- 36 IZYLUM 5 (12O LEDs) with a power of 272W on the straight sections and start/finish area;
- 16 OMNISTAR (160 LEDs) with a power of 390W in the corners;
- 4 OMNISTAR (240 LEDs) with a power of 576W in the corners;
- 6 INDU FLOOD 3 (288 LEDs) with a power of 364W in the corners.
This represents a total power consumption of 20.52kW, a reduction in energy consumption of 36.75kW or 64%.
Thanks to the new energy-efficient sports lighting, vzw Terlaemen can continue to organise night-time events and allow cyclists to train all year round.
New sports lighting in a tight deadline
As the Circuit Zolder is in use all year round, it was a challenge to install the new LED lighting in time. At the end of January 2023, vzw Terlaemen contacted Schréder with the aim of having the new lighting installed in time for the start of testing for the 24 Hours of Zolder on 23 August 2023. They also pointed out that the lights could only be installed when the circuit was not in use, which did not leave many options given the very busy calendar of events.
Thanks to the professionalism and responsiveness of the Schréder teams, the applications team drew up the lighting design in February, the proposal was approved at the end of April and the entire circuit was equipped with the new LED luminaires by mid-August, 7 months after the first contact with the management.
Choosing the right lighting for a motor racing circuit is a real challenge. With speeds in excess of 250km/h, corners in quick succession and exit lanes that mean a significant distance between the track and the lighting columns, the challenge was to ensure that the track was evenly lit, that there were no blind spots and that there was absolutely no glare. The challenge was also to ensure that the high-power LED lighting did not cause any light pollution in the area. Thanks to Schréder's expertise, after a successful edition of the 24 Hours of Zolder, we can say that they crossed the finish line with flying colours in every respect.