Three races, three victories - GTC Race season finale 2020
For steer-by-wire technology carriers: Space Drive Racing drivers gain more than just knowledge at the season finale in Hockenheim.
At the GTC Race season finale as part of the DTM at the Hockenheimring in the best autumn weather but cold temperatures, the four Space Drive technology vehicles from Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co. KG, which do not require any mechanical connection between the steering unit and the steering gear, once again presented ambitious motorsport with spectacular overtaking manoeuvres...
At the GTC Race season finale as part of the DTM at the Hockenheimring in the best autumn weather but cold temperatures, the four Space Drive technology carriers from Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co. KG, which do not require any mechanical connection between the steering unit and the steering gear, once again presented ambitious motorsport with spectacular overtaking manoeuvres and a unique driver pairing in the history of the GTC Race.
In a difficult year, we have managed to further perfect the technology under the extreme conditions of racing.
This weekend, Mr Safety Car - Bernd Mayländer - climbed into the cockpit of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 #31 for the first time with Mr DTM - Bernd Schneider. The two veterans engaged in thrilling duels with the Audi R8 LMS GT3 #99 and Markus Winkelhock. Also at the start was the Porsche 911 GT3 R #117, driven by Kim Berwanger, who had his first GT3 race this weekend, and Martin Ragginger, as well as the Porsche Cayman 718 GT4, which was already successfully in action at the 24h NBR, driven by 24h drivers Nikas Steinhaus and Kai Riemer.
In the end, the Audi and Mercedes drivers were able to decide the victories among themselves. Markus Winkelhock prevailed in the Goodyear60, but was unable to take the overall win in the PRO category away from Maximilian Götz, who had won the previous two races. In the first GTC race on Saturday, DTM veteran Bernd Schneider was able to drive home the victory, in the second race Markus Winkelhock still took the win after a spectacular chase and was thus also able to secure the overall victory in the PRO classification.
"In a difficult year, we have managed to further perfect the technology under the extreme conditions of racing," says Roland Arnold, CEO of Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co. KG and at the same time Managing Director of PARAVAN GmbH, who developed the Space Drive technology from mobility for the disabled. The engineers have used the knowledge gained from the use of the Audi R8 LMS in the 2019 season, further developed the system and equipped it with the corresponding measurement technology. "The data obtained flows one-to-one into the further optimisation of Space Drive, which should be ready for series production in the next two years. We currently have six different test vehicles in racing use as well as three road vehicles," says Arnold.
The veterans Bernd Mayländer and Bernd Schneider were particularly in focus. They piloted the #31 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Space Drive Racing, the development platform of Schaeffler Paravan, which is supported by HWA Engineering Speed, together for the first time. "I'm not worried about the steering," said Bernd Mayländer ahead of Friday's Goodyear60, his first time in a GT3 car in 16 years. "But I still have to get used to the abrasion a bit, to the tyres. I was happy to accept the challenge." Bernd Schneider started at Goodyear60 and then handed over to Bernd Mayländer. The DTM Champion then drove Race 1 of the GTC Race on Saturday. "This is what makes motorsport fun. You could see that in the results, pole twice, second in the Goodyear and won in the Sprint. But it wasn't easy. We both had to really fight," Schneider sums up. On Sunday, Bernd Mayländer climbed into the cockpit again. Both mastered the challenge with aplomb. "I had a lot of fun," says Mayländer. "Bernd Schneider set the bar very high."
Full success for the Space Drive technology carriers
In Friday's Goodyear60, Bernd Schneider started from pole in the Mercedes-AMG, but had to relinquish the lead to Markus Winkelhock in the #99 Audi R8 LMS GT3 - driven by Phoenix Racing - immediately in the north bend. However, the veteran managed to take it back at the end of the second lap in the Motodrom and pitted in first place. A safety car phase shortly before the pit window opened brought the field back together, wiping out the lead for Bernd Mayländer, who climbed into the cockpit of the #31 after the pit stop. Markus Winkelhock, who also set the fastest race lap, took his chance and snatched the lead position, which he took to the finish. Unlucky was Martin Ragginger in the Porsche 911 GT3 R, who took over the car from Kim Berwanger and had to park the car on lap 24 after a bumper. The Porsche Cayman 718 GT4, which like the Porsche 911 was supported by KÜS Team75 Motorsport, finished tenth with Niklas Steinhaus and Kai Riemer and was second in the GT4 classification.
Saturday's race saw a start-finish victory for Bernd Schneider in the AMG, who had a thrilling race with Markus Winkelhock in the Audi and also set the fastest lap. Kim Berwanger finished 7th in the Porsche 911 GT3 R, the Cayman with the #4 and Niklas Steinhaus came 13th overall and second in the GT4 class, as on the previous day behind the BMW M4s of Julian Würtele and Kevin Rohrscheidt.
Bernd Mayländer started the race from position 3 on Sunday. Markus Winkelhock delivered a furious race to catch up. After spectacular overtaking manoeuvres from the last grid position, he finally overtook the previous leader, Kenneth Heyer (Mercedes AMG GT3 #93), in the Sachskurve on lap 12 and took the lead. He thus secured the GTC Race Championship in the PRO classification. Bernd Mayländer came in a thankless 4th place with his Mercedes AMG GT3, the Porsche Cayman 718 #4 finished 11th with Kai Riemer and secured the class win in GT4. "It was great fun ploughing through the field," said Markus Winkelhock after the race. "It was really good, the steering was mega, everything fit."
GTC Race Season 2020 at a glance
One opening test day, 9 qualifying sessions, 9 races, 5 steer-by-wire technology carriers and 7,939 Space Drive race kilometres covered. The Space Drive technology carriers were able to claim a total of 17 podium finishes in the 2020 season, 9 of which were victories in 9 races. 5 very different cars were in action:
- The Audi R8 LMS GT3 #99 from last year, driven by Markus Winkelhock and Carrie Schreiner.
- The Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Maximilian Götz, Patrick Assenheimer and, for the finale, the prominent pairing of Bernd Schneider and Bernd Mayländer.
- The Porsche 911 GT3 R, driven by Jannes Fittje and David Jahn and lastly by Kim Berwanger and Martin Ragginger.
- The McLaren 570S GT4 from Dörr Motosport driven by Christer Jöns in the first two races.
- And in the last two races the Porsche Cayman 718 GT4, which also made racing history in the 24h NBR, with the pilots Tim Scheerbarth, Niklas Steinhaus and Kai Riemer, who drove both races.
Meanwhile, the drivers consistently see advantages and great potential: "If I didn't know that the system was installed in the vehicle, I wouldn't feel the difference," says Martin Ragginger, who has already driven the Porsche in the ADAC GT Masters at the Lausitzring. "It's fun to be part of the project and to help develop the technology," says longest-serving Space Drive driver Markus Winkelhock. "You drive extremely clean, which is easy on the tyres." When you eventually have the possibility to adjust the steering directly on the car to the external conditions or individually to the driver, via a switch for example, then that has extreme advantages, the drivers agree. "It is a great advantage to be able to adjust the steering to the needs of the driver and the track," Kim Berwanger also sums up. "We have achieved a lot in a short time," says Bernd Schneider, who has already tested with the AMG in spring. "I think we will change a few more little things and then we will be better than a normal steering. We are very close."
Kai Riemer and Niklaus Steinhaus also saw further advantages after the 24h NBR. "Shocks over the curbs on the steering wheel don't really exist. You drive the car more smoothly as a result. You don't overdrive as much. You don't have to use so much power and that makes you drive more smoothly," Bernd Mayländer reported. "We have learned a lot this season and we have a committed team with many motivated drivers. There is a lot of interest in using the technology in racing. We are excited about the coming year," says Axel Randolph, Head of Racing at Schaeffler Paravan. "We made the most of the forced break in the spring and installed a lot of measurement technology. Based on the data, we were able to further optimise the system over the season and were able to obtain important impulses for further development."