Alex Zanardi and BMW competed a roll-out with the BMW M4 DTM at the weekend to test the modifications he requires.
The Italian is to make an appearance in the DTM Series‘ Italian round at Misano with Zanardi set to make a guest appearance courtesy of BMW.
It will mark the first time Zanardi has raced without his prosthetic legs since his crash in 2001, with the Italian believing it will be an advantage to him.
“When I wear my prosthetic legs I am like an engine without cooling system. And this doesn’t help while you stay in the cockpit of a race car where the temperature often rises above a decent limit.
“When we started to study the Daytona 2019 project I told the engineers that this was the main change we should had look at. And when I was offered to drive DTM in Misano, we had already done sufficient work and progress to believe that for me to drive without my prosthetic legs would potentially also help the performance.”
This will mean getting into the car would have to be taken into consideration, as currently he uses his prosthetics, aided by walking sticks, to walk to his car but Zanardi feels transferring from his wheelchair would be easier.
“I am much more agile than with them on to get in and out the car. It is ten times easier for me. I can’t use my legs for any other purpose than a leaning point. I have to drag them in to the car using the strength of my arms with which I need to raise the weight of my body. So without the legs I have nothing interfering in the movement and also I have less weight to move around.
“The plan is to get to the car with my wheelchair and to then jump into the cockpit. Then the same way to get out. And in case I would incidentally stop around the circuit and have to get out the car in a hurry: well, it won’t be nice for the ones watching, but I promise you I can walk faster on my arms on grass or gravel than I would with my fake legs anyway.”
Further to this, by not having his prosthetics on if Zanardi was required to be extracted as a result of a collision this would be easier.
“So overall it is a better option also from this point of view. This does not mean that if ever I decided to drive with my prosthetic legs again it would be unsafe.
“Of course we took all aspects in serious consideration because we did not want to bump any safety issue, not just for myself, or BMW, or more for other people, simply because is what you have to do when you do things at this level. And we wouldn’t start this new adventure if we didn’t think we have it covered under this point of view.”
The DTM is currently on its summer break with action resuming 11-12 August at Brands Hatch, it will then move on to Misano 24-26 August for the first ever night race in the series.