Race for reach
Drive-by-wire technology Space Drive from Schaeffler Paravan at the ADAC 24h e-competition
The ADAC 24h e-Competition on the Grand Prix circuit of the Hockenheimring is not about being the fastest, but about completing the most laps with the most energy-efficient driving style.
Rather untypical in motorsport but a foretaste of which topics will be in the foreground in the vehicle concepts of the future. The "Space Drive" team from Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co. KG will compete with two electric vehicles (BEV) - Volkswagen ID3 #18/ #19. The special feature: the Volkswagen ID3 #18 manages without any mechanical connection between the steering unit and the steering gear, analogous to the GT3/ GT4 technology carriers that are otherwise on the road at the Hockenheimring as part of the DTM or the GTC race. The second vehicle runs with conventional steering as a reference vehicle.
The VW ID3 with the #18 will be driven by the local heroes Patrick Assenheimer, Jochen Nerpel, Andreas Wirth and Christian Gruber as well as Alexander Uphoff, who is responsible for the development and testing of the technology on the road at Schaeffler Paravan. The second VW ID3 with the #19 will be driven by the Schaeffler Paravan and PARAVAN employees Wolff Matuschka, Clara Puchinger, Frank Weidner, "Drifter" Alexander Gräff, and Timo Haug. The winner is the team that completes the most laps on the Grand Prix circuit of the Hockenheimring during these 24 hours. Driving skills in combination with an intelligently planned consumption and charging strategy will determine the team's success.
We develop according to the principle "From Track to Road". The ADAC 24h e-competition therefore fits perfectly into this development concept. The 24-hour event with a road vehicle will provide us with further important parameters and input for the development and show us where the decisive differences lie compared to racing operations.
The team has worked very intensively on the energy management of the vehicle. An important question for the engineers: how does the power balance of the Space Drive vehicle differ from that of the conventional vehicle? In addition, system data is collected in comparison to conventional steering and this is done over a period of 24 hours. "Driving is relatively demanding," says Alexander Uphoff, Head of Systems Development and himself active in the Space Drive Cockpit. "During the first test drives, we were able to gain important insights into the driving style, which will hopefully lead us to success in the race."
"We develop according to the principle "From Track to Road". The ADAC 24h e-competition therefore fits perfectly into this development concept. The 24-hour event with a road vehicle will provide us with further important parameters and input for development and show where the crucial differences lie compared to racing," says Hubert Hügle, CTO of Schaeffler Paravan Technologie. "The parallel testing with an identical vehicle with conventional steering will provide us with important reference parameters for steering behaviour".
"This is something completely different. Not to drive as fast as possible, but as many laps as possible. I'm also looking forward to mastering this challenge with old companions from karting," says Andreas Wirth, a racing driver in a wide variety of GT classes, including ADAC GT Masters and endurance specialist. "I only know Space Drive from hearsay so far, so I'm very curious to see whether the statements are true that it really is so close to conventional steering. In any case, I'm really looking forward to it." Also taking to the wheel is GT3 endurance specialist Patrick Assenheimer, who has already won trophies with Space Drive in the GTC Race. "For me, this other type of competition is very interesting. It is much more demanding to optimally utilise the range of the electric vehicle than you think at the beginning. I know the Space Drive steering from motorsport and know exactly how it feels. It will help us to achieve a good result," Assenheimer is sure.
"Steer-by-wire steering has already proven in the highest motorsport classes that it can keep up. For me personally, it will be interesting to feel whether there is any difference at all," says Jochen Nerpel, who himself used to be successful in the German Formula 3 Cup and Formula König, among others, and is now the managing director of Hockenheim-Ring GmbH. "It's a completely new experience for me," says Christian Gruber, who was successful in karting as well as in Formula König in his youth and has only driven sprint races so far. "I will be driving with steer-by-wire for the first time and I am excited to see how the steering feels in the car. For me, this is the future!" said Gruber. "Steer-by-wire technology will revolutionise the automotive industry. That's another reason why it's something special to experience today what will be installed in many vehicles years from now," says the Managing Director of Hockenheimring GmbH. "At new event formats like the 24h e-competition, I like to take part myself to get a feel for the processes and organisation."
Racing is traditionally regarded as a development accelerator. Since 2019, the Space Drive System has been approved by the German Motor Sports Federation (DMSB), and since 2020 it has been firmly anchored in the regulations of the GTC Race or the DTM, among others. In this environment, the Schaeffler Paravan technology carriers are tested by a wide range of development drivers. In addition to DTM, ADAC GT 4 Germany, GTC Race or in the field of rallying, the technology carriers were already used in 2020 (GT4) and 2021 (GT3) at the ADAC Total 24h Nürburgring. It is important to the Schaeffler Paravan engineers that the development has a common thread. That is why, in addition to the GT3 technology carriers, tests are also being carried out with the GT4 vehicles, which are much closer to series production, as well as with road cars. Although the sporting successes are not the main focus, they are an important indicator of the reliability and resilience of the system. The biggest success so far was the first podium finish of a Space Drive vehicle in the first DTM season at the finale at the Norisring in 2021.