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Unread 01-21-2014, 12:01 PM   #1
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Alex Zanardi back in the driver's seat with BMW

Filed under: Motorsports, Hirings/Firings/Layoffs, BMW

If there's ever been an inspirational story in the pantheon of motor racing history, surely it's that of Alessandro Zanardi. The Italian driver worked his way up the motor racing ladder, making it into Formula One and winning two CART championships for Chip Ganassi Racing back before the series re-merged into IndyCars. Tragedy struck in 2001 when he lost both his legs in a crash at the Lausitzring in Germany, but rather than accept his fate, Alex pushed on. Fitted with prosthetic limbs, he learned to drive a racing car with hand controls and got back in the driver's seat.

Zanardi drove for BMW in the European Touring Car Championship and then in the World Touring Car Championship that replaced it, landing on the podium several times despite his physical disadvantage. He left racing in 2009 to train for the Paralympics, winning two gold medals in London, but Alex apparently couldn't shake the racing bug. BMW modified one of its M3 DTM racers with hand controls for him to test later that year. And now he's returning to motor racing full time.

BMW has just announced that Zanardi will be driving a Z4 GT3 in the Blancpain Sprint Series, the successor to the FIA GT Series and short-distance counterpart to the Blancpain Endurance Series. The car has been modified with the hand controls the Bavarian automaker's racing department fitted to the aforementioned M3 DTM and will be fielded by the ROAL Motorsport team with which Alex challenged for the European Touring Car Championship last decade.

"The sprints in the Blancpain GT Sprint Series are tailor-made for Alex," said team leader and former DTM champion Roberto Ravaglia. "We will do everything in our power to give him a strong car, with which he can reproduce the performances and success we have seen from him in the past." For our part, we'll sure be looking forward to seeing how Zanardi performs when the series kicks off on April 21 with a one-hour race at the circuit Paul Armagnac in Nogaro, France. Scope out the details in the press release below for more.Continue reading Alex Zanardi back in the driver's seat with BMW

Alex Zanardi back in the driver's seat with BMW originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 21 Jan 2014 11:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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