"Joystick Racer" advocates diversity in the DTM
Schaeffler-Paravan brand ambassador Janis McDavid "starts" DTM race in Zolder
Janis McDavid is eagerly awaiting his first official DTM entry. At the third race weekend of the 2021 season in Zolder, Belgium, he will drive the introductory lap - as part of the Diversity Challenge of the Diversity Charter. The special feature: Schaeffler Paravan brand ambassador Janis McDavid was born without arms and legs. His childhood dream was to be able to drive a fast sports car around a race track himself one day. In Zolder, this dream will now come true in front of a large audience. The 29-year-old pilots a BMW M3 specially tailored to his needs with the second generation of the digital Space Drive "by-wire" driving and steering system.
The author and motivational trainer is thus taking on another big task. With its ten bends, Zolder is considered an "old school" race track. Fast, challenging and not without its challenges: "A driving mistake quickly leads to a ride into the gravel bed - I have a lot of respect for that," says McDavid. On Friday before the race, Timo Glock will familiarise the "joystick racer" with the details of the circuit. McDavid: "I'm particularly proud to be able to lead the top-class field at this particular venue." After all, the Belgian circuit calls itself the "Home of DTM". The debut race took place here in 1984. Another challenge: the 4-way joystick, which is completely integrated into the customised seat shell, has to sit firmly under Janisʼ armpit even at high speeds and with the corresponding centrifugal forces on the race track. "The joystick simply has to fit 100 per cent. I must never lose contact," knows the "joystick racer", who is competing in the DTM as part of the Diversity Challenge, in which eight dual students from Schaeffler are taking part - under the hashtag #UnitedByRacing for diversity.
Freedom for me is that I am just as equal on the street as everyone else. My disability doesn't matter, it's a great feeling. I am proud to be able to take part in this exciting project.
Janis McDavid has been driving a Mercedes Sprinter for more than 10 years and almost 350,000 kilometres, and since this summer a new Mercedes V-Class. The vehicle, which was customised by PARAVAN, is equipped with the Space Drive System and a 4-way joystick, among other things. For Janis McDavid, driving a car still involves something very special.
Since this year, electronic steering, which does without any mechanical connection between the steering unit and the steering gear, is also a fixed component of the DTM regulations. With Space Drive - but unlike Janis McDavid with a steering wheel instead of a joystick - on the grid:
- The Mercedes-AMG GT3 from Mücke Motorsport currently driven by Mercedes-AMG driver Maximilian Buhk.
- The BMW M6 from ROWE Racing, driven by Formula 1 & DTM driver Timo Glock.
- And the Audi R8 LMS GT3 from ABT Sportsline, driven by Schaeffler brand ambassador Sophia Flörsch.
Space Drive is a well-tested key technology for autonomous driving with more than one billion kilometres driven on public roads. The innovative steering technology, in which the steering commands are transmitted electronically via a cable, has already been tested and further developed for more than two years in the tough test environment of motor sports. Currently the only road-legal and triple-redundant driving and steering system, it has been approved by the DMSB for motorsport since 2019.
Eight race weekends are scheduled for the 2021 DTM season. One race on Saturday and one on Sunday will be held per race weekend. The race traditionally starts at 1.30 pm. On both days, the race will be broadcast live on SAT.1 from 1 pm. All practice runs and races can also be seen in the livestream at DTM Grid.