In 1971 Repsol signed the first contract with Ángel Nieto, who went on to win 13 world titles. However, the first developments in motorsport fuels were for the Toyota and Subaru engines of Carlos Sainz.
What does creating competition fuels mean to Repsol?
Repsol's motorsport odyssey began in 1971 when it created a team with Ángel Nieto, a legend of world motorcycle racing. But the development of fuels and lubricants began during the mid-1990s for the Toyota and Subaru engines of Carlos Sainz, a double World Rally Champion and Dakar Rally champion. This is a strategy that does not seek economic profit, but image and technological excellence on the one hand, and, on the other, the possibility of enhancing our products through the knowledge and experienced gained from the best possible testing ground.
Is it a business for Repsol?
Obviously not, if business is taken to mean an immediate financial profit. At Repsol, however, the priority is to be in the technological vanguard, and that is good business because the goal is to improve the commercial product through the transfer of knowledge acquired through competition and to gain our customers' loyalty by offering them extremely advanced products with cutting-edge additives that protect, clean and prolong engine life, optimising consumption and performance.
How is the research team organised?
The team at the Repsol Technology Centre, where the fuels are comprehensively developed, is made up of seven specialised technologists who dedicate every day to improving the products used by the sponsored teams. There are six testing cells, some of which have restricted access because of the confidential nature of the engine inside, where Repsol fuels and lubricants are tested and subjected to the most extreme and demanding conditions that can be produced in the different engines and at the championship circuits. This way, they can find out how they perform and how the formulas can be improved.
How many tests are carried out?
It is a never-ending task, based on the premise that everything can be improved. In just a few months more than 200 tests may be carried out for a motorsport lubricant, but first it is essential to develop exclusive high-precision testing methods, enabling us to differentiate between the best products.
How do you get the ideal petrol to ensure the best engine performance?
The key to a good competition product is to ensure close collaboration between the engine manufacturer and the fuel manufacturer. Both the engine and its performance must be studied, using different mathematical models. From then on the products are formulated and trialled using test benches, before testing takes place at the circuit. The manufacturing process is always as meticulous as the logistics are complicated, for the petrols are transported throughout the world, from the Sahara desert to Japan, from Malaysia to Tunisia. And as they are hazardous goods, they are subject to extremely strict transport regulations in order to guarantee maximum safety.
What is the ideal lubricant?
For years, competition teams focused their efforts on developing the petrols which would get the best performance from their engines. Today fuels have reached an optimal level, and now lubricants take centre stage. They have to guarantee engine life whilst taking as little power as possible. This is a tricky technological balance: protection versus power. The main function is to avoid contact between the metal parts of the engine, because that friction would eventually break it. If the product is very viscous, protection is high, but it takes the engine more effort to move, and we lose power. The challenge is to create a lubricant which is minimally viscous, and protects the engine while losing little power. It's no easy task.
Repsol Technology Center
Autovía de Extremadura, S/N
28935 Mostoles, Madrid
Telephone: (34) 913 48 76 00