The 2022 ADAC SimRacing Expo saw no shortage of brand-new hardware – 2023 is looking good already for SimRacers. While many could not wait to try Simucube’s new Active Pedal, Ascher Racing unveiled an all-new range of McLaren wheels seemingly out of nowhere – and the story behind them is highly-interesting.
It is not just about the name on the wheel: Instead of having secured a license to badge their wheels with the McLaren logo, the roots of the upcoming wheels go much deeper than that. Right down to a real racing car, to be exact: Ascher builds the official wheel of the new McLaren Artura GT4.
Interestingly, the official wheel has the fewest buttons in the lineup, but it is available as an authentic and replica version respectively. More buttons and even a version including a large display are available and turned quite a lot of heads at SRE22. The buttons are backlit and laser-engraved with switchable caps – and they can interact with a sim’s telemetry.
High-quality wheels with unique features are coming, then – but what is the story behind them? “The manufacturer actually contacted me”, recalls Ascher Racing CEO Martin Ascher. “McLaren had our F64 wheel in their factory, and the drivers really appreciated the ergonomics of the grips. They told the engineers that they should keep this design for the Artura GT4.” This resulted in talks about partnering for designing the grips but soon blossomed into a fully-fledged partnership.
“I was developing a new series of wheels at the time, and those fulfilled all the requirements McLaren had”, says Ascher. “They were still in the concept phase themselves, so we adapted my designs a bit. We have put a lot of work into it.”
What worked in Ascher’s favor: He always had real motorsport wheels in mind when designing the new wheels. “That means I wanted them to be waterproof and resistant to vibrations and dust”, Ascher explains. The Artura wheel SimRacers will be able to buy “is identical to the one in the real car, except for the chip on the internal electronics.”
Speaking of electronics: The possible interaction of the buttons with in-game telemetry mentioned above has practical uses. Ascher gives an example: “For instance, the DRS button can change its colors depending on the status of the DRS. It can be red when DRS is not available, green when it is available, and change color depending on of it is active or not.”
Impressive technology that was already on display in Nuremberg, and the wheels were also available to test on a number of rigs Ascher had brought. Interest in the McLaren wheels was enormous – but SimRacers need more patience: Pricing for the new hardware is set to be revealed in Q3 of 2023.