1. Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Space Drive at ADAC 24h Nürburgring
The challenge for the Mercedes-AMG GT3 #25 with Space Drive.
The technology carrier, equipped with steer-by-wire technology, will be used this year at the ADAC Total 24h Nürburgring, making it the first GT3 vehicle in the 49-year history of the legendary endurance race to operate without a mechanical connection between the steering unit and steering gear. "It is the next logical step in the Space Drive development programme," says Roland Arnold, Managing Director of Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co. KG, who developed the technology from disabled mobility. "We are developing on the toughest test environment in the world."
The Nordschleife is a very demanding and material-intensive circuit and in this context also a very important testing ground for the industry. The qualifying race next weekend will be the first test for the Mercedes-AMG GT3 on this circuit. "The test results on the Nordschleife in April convinced us to take this step," says Klaus Graf, member of the Schaeffler Paravan management, who drove the tests himself as an experienced Nordschleife driver. "We have developed intensively over the winter months and achieved very good test results. The findings on this legendary circuit, are significantly greater than on any other race track. We expect important input here for the further development for Space Drive 3, be it with regard to the functional safety concept of the system or the mechanical load capacity of the components." Last year, the Space Drive technology was already successfully used in the 24h race and was able to hold its own well in the field. As in the previous year, the Space Drive Team is technically supported by W&S Motorsport.
I have driven the 24h a few times, but never with such technology or without a steering column. I am very optimistic that the project will be successful and have great confidence in Schaeffler Paravan's technology. We will test under the toughest conditions and show that the technology is up to the load.
The cockpit is completed by three experienced endurance specialists: Briton Darren Turner and his German colleagues Dominik Farnbacher as well as Tim Scheerbarth, who already sat in the Space Drive cockpit last year. "There is a huge difference between GT3 and GT4. In this field we meet the works sports teams who have been preparing intensively for this race at the Nürburgring for years," says Tim Scheerbarth, "The system has undergone another year of development work. The differences are enormous. We want to use this weekend's qualifying race to grow together as a team. As drivers, we're concentrating on combining the steering, the car and the track into a good unit."
"The races on the Nordschleife are always a highlight of the year, especially the 24-hour race," says Darren Turner. "It's a very exciting project. I'm looking forward to seeing how it feels when there is no mechanical connection between the steering wheel and steering gear. Motorsport is perfect for pushing technologies forward and testing components in the toughest conditions." Endurance specialist Dominik Farnbacher is also looking forward to the new challenge: "I've driven in the 24h a few times, but never with such technology or without a steering column. I am very optimistic that the project will be successful and have great confidence in the technology from Schaeffler Paravan. We will test under the toughest conditions and show that the technology is up to the load."
The Space Drive electronic driving and steering system from Schaeffler Paravan is a key technology for autonomous driving in Level 5, which originally emerged from mobility for the disabled. By eliminating the steering column, future vehicle concepts can be completely rethought, making new interior concepts possible. Steer-by-wire technology has been approved by the German Motor Sports Federation (DMSB) for two years and has since been tested under the tough conditions of racing. The steering technology is part of the GTC Race regulations and, since this year, in the DTM and is thus being further developed at racing speed.
Since 1970, the 24h race at the Nürburgring has been one of the toughest and most prestigious races in the world, alongside the 24h Le Mans. The competition twice around the clock on the 25.378-kilometre variant of the Grand Prix circuit and Nordschleife will be held from 3 to 6 June. Almost 90 participants have registered for the qualifying race under the special conditions of the Corona pandemic. Since its inception, the 24-hour race has always put new prototypes of racing cars as well as innovative technologies to an incomparable endurance test. Since the opening of the Nürburgring in 1927, the saying has been true: "Everyone praises what Nürburgring tests."