Former F1, WTCC and Champ Car star Alex Zanardi has lauded the Brands Hatch Paralympic circuit on a handbike ahead of the Paralympic games which will take place in August and September of this year. He joined 150 other Paralympic athletes in sampling the track, including home favourites from Team GB.
Zanardi lost both of his legs in a Champ Car accident in 2001, and since then has found glory in paracycling. After winning marathons in both Rome and New York, Zanardi was selected for the Italian paracycling team along with nine other athletes and he is expected to be a serious contender come September when the handcycling races take place at Brands Hatch.
After his practice runs around the circuit, Zanardi said: “The course couldn't be better, it's fantastic. The last part is the most difficult because in terms of personal pleasure and doing things right it is not the easiest area but when you get to the penultimate climb going up to Druids you are already very tired but that is the section where you can win or lose the race. You've got to be really able to make the difference in those last two climbs.”
“Technically speaking I think it really suits my best talents but you've got to be powerful and you've got to be able to get the strategy of the race right and be smart. There are some areas where if you just keep pushing you're not going to reach the finishing line in the best way. I think I was about 95% right in the simulation I did today, but everything is perfectible so I will try to sort it out with my trainer so I can come back stronger in September for the real thing.”
However, despite his obvious talents in the sport, Zanardi was unsure of where his future lies after his Paralympic debut later this year. He even hinted that he may make a return to motorsport: “I guess when you do things special like I have, you can't make too much of a long-term plan. The greatest things sometimes also happen as a coincidence; I wouldn't have driven a car for so long had I not had the passion for it. When I gave up driving [competitively] at the end of 2009 in order to spend more time handcycling, it was not a hard decision because I had spent so long doing it. However, now that I have not driven a car for a while the sensation that I would enjoy grabbing a steering wheel again [would be great]. If the right opportunity arises then that could be the next horizon for me.”