At the GTC Race season finale as part of the DTM at the Hockenheimring in the best fall 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 offered ambitious motor sport with spectacular overtaking maneuvers and a unique driver pairing in the history of the GTC Race.
This weekend, Mr. Safety Car - Bernd Mayländer - entered the cockpit of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 #31 for the first time with Mr. DTM - Bernd Schneider - and the two veteran drivers fought exciting 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 the 24h drivers Nikas Steinhaus and Kai Riemer.
The Audi and Mercedes pilots were ultimately able to determine the victories among themselves. Markus Winkelhock prevailed in the Goodyear60, but Maximilian Götz, who won the two previous races, could not take the overall victory in the PRO category. In the first GTC race on Saturday, DTM veteran Bernd Schneider was able to take home the victory, while in the second race Markus Winkelhock, after a spectacular catch-up race, took the victory and thus also secured the overall victory in the PRO category.
"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 out of disabled mobility. The engineers have used the knowledge gained from using the Audi R8 LMS in the 2019 season, further developed the system and equipped it with the appropriate measurement technology. "The data obtained will flow one-to-one into the further optimization of Space Drive, which is to be transferred to production readiness in the next two years. We currently have six different test vehicles in racing use and three road vehicles," says Arnold.
The focus was especially on the experienced Bernd Mayländer and Bernd Schneider. For the first time, they drove together the Mercedes-AMG GT3 #31 from Space Drive Racing, the development platform of Schaeffler Paravan, which is supported by HWA Engineering Speed. "I'm not worried about the steering," says Bernd Mayländer in front of the Goodyear60 on Friday, which is the first time in 16 years that he has sat in a GT3 car again. "But I still have to get used to the abrasion, to the tires. I have gladly accepted the challenge". Bernd Schneider started with the Goodyear60 and then handed over to Bernd Mayländer. The DTM Champion then drove Race 1 of the GTC Race on Saturday. "That's how motorsport is fun. You could see that in the results, two times pole, second in the Goodyear and won the sprint. But it was not easy. We both had to really fight," Schneider sums up. On Sunday Bernd Mayländer was back in the the cockpit again. Both of them mastered the challenge with aplomb. "I had a lot of fun," says Mayländer. "Bernd Schneider set the bar very high.
Complete success for the Space Drive technology carriers
At the Goodyear60 on Friday, Bernd Schneider started in the Mercedes-AMG from pole position, but had to give up the lead in the north curve to Markus Winkelhock in the Audi R8 LMS GT3 #99 - supported by Phoenix Racing. But the experienced driver managed to get it back at the end of the second lap in the Motodrom and drove to the pit stop in first place. A safety car phase shortly before the pit window opened brought the field back together again and thus destroyed the lead for Bernd Mayländer, who entered the cockpit of the #31 after the pit stop. Markus Winkelhock, who also drove the fastest lap of the race, took his chance and grabbed the leading position, which he brought home. 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 rampage. The Porsche Cayman 718 GT4, which like the Porsche 911 was supported by KÜS Team75 Motorsport, came in tenth place with Niklas Steinhaus and Kai Riemer and finished 2nd in the GT4 classification.
In Saturday's race there was a start-finish victory for Bernd Schneider in the AMG, who had an exciting race with Markus Winkelhock in the Audi and also drove the fastest lap. Kim Berwanger came in 7th place with the Porsche 911 GT3 R, the Cayman with the #4 and Niklas Steinhaus came in 13th overall and in the GT4 class in 2nd place, just like the day before behind the BMW M4 of Julian Würtele and Kevin Rohrscheidt.
Bernd Mayländer started the race on Sunday from position 3. Markus Winkelhock delivered a furious chase. After spectacular overtaking manoeuvres, he finally managed to overtake the previous leader, Kenneth Heyer (Mercedes AMG GT3 #93), on lap 12 in the Sachskurve and took the lead. This allowed him to secure the GTC Race Championship in the PRO classification. Bernd Mayländer came with his Mercedes AMG GT3 on the thankless 4th place, the Porsche Cayman 718 #4 reached with Kai Riemer 11th place and secured the class victory in the GT4. "It was great fun ploughing through the field", said Markus Winkelhock after the race. "It was really good, the steering was great, 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 kilometers covered. The Space Drive technology carriers were able to achieve a total of 17 podium places in the 2020 season, including 9 wins in 9 races. 5 very different vehicles were in use:
- 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 with the prominent double Bernd Schneider and Bernd Mayländer
- The Porsche 911 GT3 R, driven by Jannes Fittje and David Jahn and most recently by Kim Berwanger and Martin Ragginger.
- The McLaren 570S GT4 from Dörr Motosport, driven by Christer Jöns in the first two races.
- As well as in the last two races the Porsche Cayman 718 GT4 which also wrote racing history in the 24h NBR, with the drivers Tim Scheerbarth, Niklas Steinhaus and Kai Riemer, who drove both races.
The drivers now see advantages and great potential throughout: "If I didn't know that the system was installed in the car, 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 senior Space Drive driver Markus Winkelhock. "You drive extremely cleanly, which is easy on the tires. If you ever have the opportunity to adjust the steering system directly on the car to the external conditions or individually to the driver, for example by means of a switch, then that has extreme advantages, the drivers agree on that. "It is a great advantage that you can adjust the steering to the needs of the driver and the track," summarizes Kim Berwanger. "We have achieved a lot in a short time," says Bernd Schneider, who already tested with the AMG in the spring. "I think we're going to change a few small things and then we'll be better than a normal steering system. We are very close." Kai Riemer and Niklaus Steinhaus also saw further advantages after the 24h NBR. "Blows over the curbs on the steering wheel don't really exist. You drive the car more quietly because of that. You don't drive over it so much. You don't have to use so much force and you drive more smoothly", Bernd Mayländer reports.
"We have learned a lot this season and we have a dedicated team with many motivated drivers. The interest in using the technology in racing is great. We are looking forward to the coming year," says Axel Randolph, Head of Racing at Schaeffler Paravan. "We made optimum use of the forced break in spring and installed a lot of measurement technology. Using the data, we were able to further optimize the system over the season and received important impulses for further development".
About Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co.KG
The Schaeffler Paravan Technology GmbH & Co. KG is a company specializing in the development of fail-safe drive-by-wire systems - "Space Drive" - and chassis system solutions. It is based in Herzogenaurach with a production facility in Pfronstetten-Aichelau. Schaeffler Paravan Technologie is a joint venture (90 percent Schaeffler and ten percent Roland Arnold) and was founded in October 2018. The space drive system developed by Paravan founder, Roland Arnold, has been completely transferred to the joint venture and will be industrialized there. Schaeffer Paravan is also developing a "rolling chassis" with intelligent corner modules for vehicles that will drive autonomously in the future - with integrated Schaeffler wheel hub motors, brakes, Space Drive steering (90 degrees) and suspension in one system.
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