The next major step is done in a very special project: BMW works drivers Alessandro Zanardi (IT), Bruno Spengler (CA) and Timo Glock (DE) took to the track for the first time with the modified BMW Z4 GT3 which they will race at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (BE) at the end of July. This week, they completed a successful two-day roll-out at “Adria International Raceway” (IT).
For the first time, Zanardi, who had both legs amputated, shares the cockpit with other, non-handicapped drivers. This unusual debut is an exciting challenge for the engineers of BMW Motorsport.
Over the past months, they had worked intensively on developing innovative technical solutions to modify the BMW Z4 GT3 in a way that both a driver with no legs as well as able bodied drivers can race it for 24 hours without having to make compromises. In addition, they focused on the driver changes which need to be completed in the fastest possible way. The new technical solutions include special steering wheels and modifications to the pedal box and the clutch.
This Thursday and Friday, the three drivers, BMW Motorsport and the team from ROAL Motorsport, which is in charge of running the BMW Z4 GT3, tested the new developments on track for the first time. They used the roll-out to evaluate the modifications and gather information for further preparations for Spa-Francorchamps.
“I am really satisfied with this roll-out,” said Zanardi. “The engineers at BMW Motorsport are doing a great job. When I drive the car I feel very much home in it, at least as much as I felt last year when I was racing in the Blancpain Sprint Series. The modifications we have made are already quite efficient and meet my personal needs very well. For sure we still have some work to do, but we know exactly where we need to do some more adjustments. So overall, all is going according to plan and how we had hoped for. It is also great fun to work with Bruno and Timo. They are not only fantastic racing drivers – we also get on very well on a personal level. And we all, us drivers as well as everyone at BMW Motorsport and ROAL Motorsport, share the same dedication and enthusiasm for the project.”
“I really enjoyed being back in the BMW Z4 GT3 and the roll-out was an important test for us,” added Spengler. “It is always a different story to actually drive on the track rather than to work on the car in the workshop. We learned a lot about how the modifications work and how we can further optimise them. In addition, we also fine-tuned the seating position. My enthusiasm for this project is still growing even further with every day. It is really something very special. It was great to work together at the race track and I can’t wait until we get in the cockpit again next week. I am happy like a little kid that I am part of this project.”
“I got used to driving the BMW Z4 GT3 pretty quickly,” reported Glock. “The seat position is different to the one in the BMW M4 DTM, and you need to get a feeling for the traction control and the ABS. But that was no problem at all. The car is great to drive and I am happy with the roll-out. It was also interesting to see how well all the ideas for the modifications work in practice. To go out on track in this unique BMW Z4 GT3 really was something special. Also the atmosphere in the garage was great, as everyone is in an extremely good mood and positive. It is a lot of fun and it is an incredibly exciting project. It is great that I can tackle it together with Alex, Bruno and BMW Motorsport.”
Next weekend (Saturday, 20th June), Zanardi, Glock and Spengler will test under race conditions and compete in the next round of the Blancpain Endurance Series, the 6-hour race at Paul Ricard in Le Castellet (FR). From there, they will head to Spa-Francorchamps for the official 24h test day on Wednesday, 24th June.