Just over 30 years ago, on 18 November 1990, Mercedes-Benz ‘st – sport technik’ surprised the competition with its 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II racing touring car at a DTM invitation race in Kyalami. This EVO II was the first works test car to be equipped with the special anti-lock braking system (ABS) for racing, which had been jointly developed by Mercedes-Benz and Bosch. Against tough competition, Roland Asch won the second heat and the overall classification on that race Sunday, which did not count towards the DTM championship standings. Today, the car is part of the Mercedes-Benz Classic collection.
ABS keeps a vehicle steerable during maximum full-stop braking. The system has been an important safety standard in production vehicles for many years, but in racing it is only used occasionally. For many years now, Mercedes-AMG GT3 and GT4 have offered an adjustable anti-lock braking system designed specifically for the racetrack.
The 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II was code-named the M7 in-house and became the acclaimed ‘Camel’ car. It was prepared especially for this race by the company’s own Mercedes-Benz ‘st – sport technik’ department. “With the help of a climatic test bench, which was very rare at the time, we prepared the engine for use at an altitude of 2 000 metres above sea level,” recalls former project manager Gerhard Lepler. But the real highlight was an electronic brake-control system. “Bosch had developed a new programmable control unit for the 126 model series S-Class,” says Gerhard Lepler, explaining the basis of the racing ABS. “This device even makes it possible to adjust the chassis, making it a forerunner of the Electronic Stability Programme ESP®.” Roland Asch, who drove almost all the test vehicles developed for the DTM at Mercedes-Benz in those years, was enthusiastic about this racing ABS system. “Initially, we kept the fact that the car was equipped with it secret in Kyalami,” explains racing driver Asch, born in Ammerbuch. “When other drivers approached me about a button on the steering wheel that was used to turn the ABS on and off, I spun them a yarn about a brake adjustment.” Even today he smiles as he recalls the reactions of the competitors on the track: “Klaus Ludwig couldnʼt believe it when I cut him up!”