Successful premiere: Mercedes-AMG #25 completes historic drive
The Mercedes-AMG #25 completed a historic drive.
A successful premiere: The Mercedes-AMG GT3 #25, equipped with the Space Drive electronic steering system from Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co. KG has completed a historic drive. As the first GT3 vehicle without a mechanical connection between the steering unit and the steering gear, the steer-by-wire technology carrier successfully took part in a race on the Nordschleife. In the six-hour qualifying race for the ADAC Total 24h Nürburgring, the bolide finished a respectable 21st overall after 41 laps and took home victory in the SPX class. "Today was a historic day for us," said Roland Arnold, CEO of Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH, who developed the system from disabled mobility. "Never before has a GT3 car without a mechanical connection competed in a race on the Nürburgring Nordschleife. This was a very strong team performance. Especially the drivers and the whole team did a top job."
The quartet of drivers around Dominik Farnbacher, Philip Ellis, Tim Scheerbarth and Briton Darren Turner, who all sat in the GT3 cockpit with the steer-by-wire steering system for the first time, mastered their task with flying colours and were able to provide further important impetus for the further development of the system. "After we tested the Mercedes AMG GT3 on the Nordschleife for the first time in April, I was convinced that the system would work reliably," says Hubert Hügle, CTO of Schaeffler Paravan and responsible for the development of Space Drive 3. "What surprised me was the consistently positive feedback from the drivers who drove the car on the Nordschleife for the first time. These are important test kilometres on the toughest race track. It is important for us that many different drivers are used in order to generate diverse feedback for the development of the system. The system proved its reliability again and the drivers got out of the car relaxed."
It confirms our decision to consistently continue and intensify our testing and development work on the Nordschleife.
In ideal conditions, Philip Ellis, who had driven qualifying 2 as well as the top 30, started from position 24 and made up important places in the first hour and a half of the race. "The start was good. It felt good. We were running at the front and could keep up," he reported. "It was actually better than expected. We can be very happy. It's a good base." Darren Turner was the second driver to take over the cockpit on lap 14 and settled back into 20th after the pit stop. "Philip was incredibly quick, which shows how good the system is," the Briton reported. "I didn't know what to expect beforehand and I've never driven this kind of steering before. I feel confident with the Space Drive system. And with every lap you learn a bit more about the driving and steering feel as it's a bit different to drive. I was able to get good times."
At Turn 21, Tim Scheerbarth, who already drove the Porsche GT4 with Space Drive at last year's 24h NBR, took over the cockpit. "That was an important long run for me with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 and the space drive system. Both worked super well in combination," he reports. He got used to the new vehicle very quickly. "You already meet a few competitors on the track, and I was able to overtake one or two GT3 cars. That shows that the pace was good. It was absolutely safe to drive." Last to take to the track was Dominik Farnbacher, who was able to take the good position over the 41-lap distance. "I've never come across a team that was so well prepared," he praised the Space Drive crew. The system, the car, the team everything was problem free today and that was exactly our goal, to show that the car can last 6 hours. Now it's on to the next level. Everything we learned today we want to implement for the 24h Nürburgring."
It was a successful dress rehearsal and important preparation before the legendary 49th ADAC Total 24h Nürburgring, those responsible agree. "It confirms our decision to consistently continue and intensify our testing and development work on the Nordschleife," reports Klaus Graf, member of the Schaeffler Paravan management, who completed the first test drives on the Nordschleife in April. "The result shows us above all that the Nordschleife is a very good test environment, as the demands on driver and vehicle, due to the track characteristics, are very different." The team is confident that it can finish the 24h race from 3 to 6 June with a positive result.
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. The system had its premiere on the Nordschleife in a Porsche Cayman 718 GT4 at the ADAC Total 24h Nürburgring last year.
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 is held from 3 to 6 June. 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."