Schaeffler Paravan Technologie returns to the Nürburgring 24 Hours this year to follow up on the successful debut of its Space Drive steer-by-wire system. The developer of innovative automotive systems and technologies again teams up with W&S Motorsport but is stepping it up a notch by entering a Mercedes-AMG GT3 to be raced by Tim Scheerbarth, Darren Turner and Dominik Farnbacher.
2020 saw the first time in history that a car with a steer-by-wire system – meaning a mechanical connection between the steering unit and steering column is replaced by an electronic connection – entered and finished a 24-hour race. Schaeffler Paravan Technologie’s Space Drive system performed flawlessly on the #58 W&S Motorsport Team Space Drive Racing Porsche Cayman 718 GT4 MR throughout the daunting conditions of the Nürburgring 24 Hours and finished second in the SP7 class and 32nd overall.
“It is the next logical step in the Space Drive development program,” says Roland Arnold, Managing Director of Schaeffler Paravan Technologie, who developed the technology from mobility solutions for the disabled.
“We are developing here on the toughest test environment in the world.”
After participating in the NLS2 test day on Friday before the race, the first race outing for ‘Team Space Drive’ will come this upcoming weekend in the ADAC 24h Qualifying Race at the Nürburgring. As the steer-by-wire system is not homologated, the pre-2020 model #25 Mercedes-AMG GT3 will start in the SPX class for experimental vehicles.
“The test results on the Nordschleife in April convinced us to take this step,” says former race car driver Klaus Graf, member of the Schaeffler Paravan management team, who drove the tests himself.
“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 this to provide us with important input for the further development of Space Drive 3, whether with regard to the functional safety concept of the system or the mechanical load capacity of the components.”
Sharing the cockpit of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 will be Nordschleife veteran Tim Scheerbarth, endurance racing expert Darren Turner, and the equally experienced and expert Dominik Farnbacher.
For Tim Scheerbarth it will be his second Nürburgring 24 Hours with the Space Drive system, having been part of the driver line-up of the Schaeffler Paravan program that scored second place in SP7 last year.
“There is a huge difference between GT3 and GT4,” says the 2011 VLN champion. “This is where we meet the factory sports teams who have been preparing intensively for this race at the Nürburgring for years. 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 focusing on combining the steering, the vehicle and the track into a good unit.”
Daren Turner adds: “The races on the Nordschleife are always a highlight of the year, especially the 24-hour race. It’s a very exciting project. I’m looking forward to seeing how it feels when there’s no mechanical link between the steering wheel and steering gear. Motorsport is perfect for pushing technologies forward and testing components under the toughest conditions.”
“I’ve driven in the 24-hour race a few times, but never with such technology or without a steering column,” Dominik Farnbacher, who won the SP7 class of the Nürburgring 24 Hours in 2010, says.
“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 able to cope with the stress put onto the system.”
Schaeffler Paravan’s Space Drive electronic driving and steering system is a key technology for autonomous driving in Level 5, which originated in mobility solutions for the disabled. The technology opens up the possibility of a complete redesign of a car’s interior with autonomous driving in mind. The German Motor Sports Federation (DMSB) has approved steer-by-wire technology since 2019 and it is part of the GTC Race regulations and being introduced in the DTM as well this year with Rowe Racing having already committed to running the Space Drive system for the #16 BMW M6 GT3 of Timo Glock and Mücke Motorsport for the #15 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo for Gary Paffett.
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