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Alessandro Zanardi: “It will be a very enjoyable experience.”

The countdown is on: in one week’s time, Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) will start his DTM adventure. The BMW works driver will compete as a guest starter at the seventh round of the 2018 DTM season at Misano (ITA). In an interview, Zanardi speaks about his dream to race a DTM car, his impressions of the BMW M4 DTM and his expectations for Misano.

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Munich. The countdown is on: in one week’s time, Alessandro Zanardi (ITA) will start his DTM adventure. The BMW works driver will compete as a guest starter at the seventh round of the 2018 DTM season at Misano (ITA). For Zanardi, it will be two firsts at once; it will be his debut in the popular touring car series and he will drive without his prosthetic legs for the first time. His modified BMW M4 DTM is equipped with a hand-operated braking system. In an interview, Zanardi speaks about his dream to race a DTM car, his impressions of the BMW M4 DTM and his expectations for Misano.

 

Alessandro, Misano is coming closer – how much is the excitement growing?

 

Alessandro Zanardi: “It is growing, but the races are still a few days away. I think the excitement will really touch the roof when I get to Misano, when I get to see the other cars, when I get to see the other transporters, when I start to sniff the fumes, hear the noise.”

 

You’ve driven so many race cars – before your accident and after the accident. Was it a dream to drive a DTM car?

 

Zanardi: “Yes, in my career I have been fortunate enough to drive beautiful cars, especially in my days in the United States. The single seaters were probably the best among the entire motorsports history I think. We had 1,000 bhp under the bonnet and the balance between what the car was capable of doing around the turns and the acceleration, the top speed you could reach with it, was just fantastic. But I’ve always looked at DTM like one of the things that down the road I want to do in my racing career. I’ve always been very much intrigued by that type of car that in my view looks really sexy and performs incredibly well. So I’m finally having this opportunity and I’m very glad and thankful to BMW for giving it to me.”

 

You completed a successful test at Vallelunga. What’s your impression of the BMW M4 DTM?

 

Zanardi: “It is indeed a real race car. It’s made out of carbon fibre; it is created to perform. The suspensions are racing ones, as are the brakes, the engine is a race engine, the gearbox is incredibly fast, it’s manufactured the way you would manufacture a Formula One gearbox for instance. So everything is purely made for racing. And the car does perform like it. Around the turns, the BMW M4 DTM is capable of producing amazing speeds. You can brake basically in the blink of an eye when you go from 300 km/h to taking a second gear corner and the car re-accelerates out of it very rapidly as well. It’s an impressive machine.”

 

With your arm, you need to apply 60 to 65 kilos on the hand-operated brake lever to brake hard. This is no problem for you?

 

Zanardi: “I have to apply a pretty good pressure but evidently my arms are strong enough to do that and to do it again the following lap. And when you decelerate at those speeds actually the longitudinal forces are helping you. They bring the weight of your body to lean on the lever anyway, so it’s harder in the garage than it is actually when you do it on the circuit. And my fitness condition, with what I have been doing on my hand cycle in the past few years, does not hurt. It definitely helps.”

 

What are your expectations for Misano?

 

Zanardi: “I know quite well what to expect for Misano. I know that DTM these days is probably the most competitive field of motorsports, no doubt about it. Formula One is not this competitive from a driver’s perspective, because the competitiveness out of the car often dictates the name of the game. In DTM, the level of the drivers is incredibly high. The drivers are all good, there are no amateurs or drivers who cannot push the car to the limit. But, on top, all cars performances are really close and often you see the entire field being packed into less than a second. And this of course suggests that for an old guy like me, with the lack of experience I have, with my personal problem, with my age, it will be very, very tough for me to collect a very good result. I will try to get the best out of it, and for sure in any case it will be a very enjoyable experience. The important thing is that I walk away from Misano knowing that I have done my best, and knowing that I did what my friends among the BMW Motorsport family know I can do.”

 

 

Alessandro Zanardi – Facts and figures.


Facts about Alessandro Zanardi.

 

Date of birth: 23rd October 1966

Place of birth: Bologna (IT)

Marital status: Married to Daniela, one son: Niccolo

 

Career in racing.

 

2016

Debut in the BMW M6 GT3: Victory at the final round of the Italian GT Championship in Mugello

2015

24h Spa-Francorchamps with Timo Glock and Bruno Spengler with the BMW Z4 GT3

2014

Blancpain Sprint Series with the BMW Z4 GT3

2005 - 2009

FIA World Touring Car Championship WTCC with BMW (four wins)

2004

FIA European Touring Car Championship ETCC with BMW

2003

Comeback as a racing driver with BMW in the FIA European Touring Car Championship ETCC

2001

CART Championship, severe accident on 15th September at Lausitzring, loses both legs

1999

Formula One

1997 - 1998

CART World Series (2 x Champion)

1996

IndyCar World Series

1991 - 1994

Formula One

 

Main successes as para-athlete.

 

2018

Para-cycling World Championship: 1 silver medal, 1 bronze medal

2017

Para-cycling World Championship: 2 gold medals, 1 silver medal

2016

Paralympic Games Rio de Janeiro: 2 gold medals, 1 silver medal

2015

Para-cycling World Championship: 3 gold medals, long distance triathlon in Hawaii in 09:40:37 hours

2014

Para-cycling World Championship: 2 gold medals, long distance triathlon in Hawaii in 9:47:14 hours

2013

Para-cycling World Championship: 3 gold medals

2012

Paralympic Games London: 2 gold medals, 1 silver medal

 

 

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