Janis McDavid is eagerly awaiting his first official DTM race. At the third race weekend of the 2021 season in Zolder, Belgium, he will drive the opening 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 is now coming true in front of a large audience. The 29-year-old is piloting 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 thus sets himself another big task. With its ten turns, 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 great respect for that," says McDavid. On Friday before the race, Timo Glock will therefore familiarize the "joystick racer" once again with the details of the circuit. McDavid: "I'm particularly proud to lead the top-class field at this particular venue." After all, the Belgian circuit calls itself the "Home of DTM." The debut race was held here in 1984. Another challenge: The 4-way joystick, which is completely integrated into the customized 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 percent. I must never lose touch," 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.
Janis McDavid has been driving a Mercedes Sprinter for more than 10 years and almost 350,000 kilometers, and since this summer he has been using a new Mercedes V-Class. The vehicle, which was customized by PARAVAN, is equipped with the Space Drive System and a 4-way joystick, among other features. For Janis McDavid, driving is still associated with something very special: "On the road, I'm like everyone else. My disability doesn't matter there; it's a great feeling."
Since this year, electronic steering, which requires no mechanical connection at all between the steering unit and the steering gear, has also been an integral part 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 piloted by Mercedes-AMG driver Maximilian Buhk.
- The BMW M6 from ROWE Racing, piloted by Formula 1 and DTM driver Timo Glock.
- As well as the Audi R8 LMS GT3 from ABT Sportsline, driven by Schaeffler brand ambassador Sophia Flörsch.
Space Drive is a highly proven key technology for autonomous driving with more than one billion kilometers driven on public roads. The innovative steering technology, in which steering commands are transmitted electronically via a cable, has already been tested and further developed for over two years in the tough test environment of motor sports. Currently the only road-legal, as well as triple-redundant driving and steering system has been approved by the DMSB for motorsport since 2019.
Eight race weekends are scheduled for the 2021 DTM season. Two races each will be held on Saturday and Sunday. The race traditionally starts at 1:30 pm. On both days, the race will be broadcast live on SAT.1 from 1 p.m. onwards. All practice runs and races can also be seen in the livestream at DTM Grid.
DTM schedule Zolder
10:00 - 10:20: Qualifying for race 1
13:00 - 13:30: Presentation of the starting grid
13:30 - 15:00: DTM race 1
10:10 - 10:30: Qualifying for race 2
13:00 - 13:30: Presentation starting grid
13:30 - 15:00: DTM Race 2
About the person: Janis McDavid
Technology has always played a decisive role in the life of Janis McDavid (* 1991). Already at the age of 19 months, the Hamburg native drove his first electric wheelchair. Driven by the idea of leading as normal a life as possible, he tried prostheses as a teenager. But he found it incredibly difficult to keep his balance. Although technology has since advanced much further, McDavid voluntarily forgoes it: "No technology comes close to my routines." Today, he leads a largely abnormal "normal" life. In his home, many things work via voice control. But if he wants to take notes, he sometimes clamps a pen between his molars. Janis McDavid studied economics and tours the country as a successful author and speaker. His core topics: Encouraging, motivating and - of course - overcoming personal limits.