A historic occasion will take place at the iconic Nurburgring next Thursday, as Italy’s Alex Zanardi, will, once again, get behind the wheel of a racing thoroughbred, as he will become the first leg-amputee to drive a current specification DTM race car.
The BMW Motorsport engineering team will have a big task ahead, especially when Zanardi visited the team on Wednesday to discuss and clarify what would be needed to help the Italian racer test the championship-winning car, which helped secure BMW Motorsport a clean sweep in their comeback season. The meeting and subsequent discussions helped all from a technical and safety aspect, which enabled the Munich outfit to give the go ahead for next week’s outing at the “Green Hell.”
Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt was delighted that the opportunity to give the 45-year-old Paralympic medalist a chance at driving the M3 DTM presented itself, as Alex has been a member of the BMW Motorsport family for many years.
The former Toyota F1 Team Principal is aware of the task ahead of the technical team, in preparation of next week’s test: “We will obviously have to make a few modifications to the car. A DTM car is considerably more complex than the BMW 320si WTCC, with which Alex won on four occasions for us in the FIA World Touring Car Championship. However, our engineers happily accepted this challenge.”
Alex also was at the Hockenheim finale, where the fairytale story came to fruition, which excited the fans, and he also looks forward to a possible new chapter in his racing career, which carried on relentlessly, even with the accident at Lausitz in 2001 sidetracking him for a couple of years: “When I saw the BMW M3 DTM up close for the first time in Hockenheim, I found myself feeling like a racing driver again, after all those months as a handcyclist. It is a great honour for any driver to get behind the wheel of such a fantastic car. I will enjoy every lap.”
So it all begs the question: Will we see Zanardi in the DTM next season, driving for BMW? We’ll find out soon enough…