Alessandro Zanardi continued his preparation for his comeback season with BMW. The 47-year-old Italian completed a comprehensive test with his BMW Z4 GT3, which the BMW works driver will race in the 2014 Blancpain Sprint Series with ROAL Motorsport. This week Zanardi and ROAL Motorsport spent several days testing at “Autodromo Vallelunga” near Rome (IT).
The team evaluated further modifications to the BMW Z4 GT3 that the team and BMW Motorsport have done based on the experiences of the first roll-out at the end of January in Adria (IT). Some of the special features of the car had been updated in order to perfectly meet the requirement of the racing driver who had both his legs amputated.
In addition, Zanardi and ROAL Motorsport started to work on the car’s set-up. Conditions were mainly dry, with sun on the first day. In the afternoon of the second day it started to rain. For the third day the weather was better again. But in the morning, when the tarmac was still damp and slippery, Zanardi went off the track, which caused some damage to the car. The team decided not to continue with the test in order to repair the car at the work-shop. Overall, Zanardi is happy with this first proper test in his BMW Z4 GT3.
“Honestly, it is very hard not to totally show my enthusiasm, and I don’t want to sound too overconfident, but after this test I have every reason to be confident”, Zanardi summed up. “Because not only the throttle mechanism, the brake pedal and the special clutch, but also all the other controls created for my personal needs are working so well we were able to focus on the set-up of the car. Just this fact is good news. But in addition, we are going home knowing that we showed considerable performance in terms of lap times. The BMW Z4 GT3 is literally sheer driving pleasure. We have been able to be fast on worn tyres, we have been able to really learn the car and we have been able to make changes to it which helped us to better understand what we should do for qualifying, and what to do for the race to have a consistent machine. So we are going home with a lot of information, and it is going to be tough to improve even further. But nevertheless, we are going to keep pushing because we are all highly motivated and excited about this opportunity and this project we are doing together. Therefore I am very, very happy and I can’t wait to get in the car again.”
“We are pretty happy because the work done since the first outing with Alex at Adria was successful”, added Roberto Ravaglia, Team Principal of ROAL Motorsport. “We could improve many things and are already in a pretty good shape. All the special systems are working quite well. In addition, Alex was able to do a lot of laps here in Vallelunga to understand the car on a proper circuit and he started to work on the set-up. I have to say that I was actually surprised. Because in Adria, which is not a difficult circuit, he was already doing well, but here in Vallelunga he was even better, so I am confident that Alex could already be quite competitive in the first races.”
Zanardi lost both legs in a serious crash while racing in 2001, but only two years later he successfully returned to motorsport with BMW. Among other things, he contested in the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) for several seasons, where he celebrated four race wins. Having won two gold medals on his handbike at the 2012 Paralympics in London (GB) and completed a test in the BMW M3 DTM in the same year, he is now set to contest a full season for BMW for the first time since 2009. Zanardi’s first race in the Blancpain Sprint Series is scheduled for the 21st April in Nogaro (FR).