DTM: Alessandro Zanardi drives BMW M3 DTM at Nurburgring
By Berthold Bouman
Alessandro Zanardi drove the BMW M3 DTM car at the German Nurburgring today, the 46-year old Italian drove 36 laps in a special gold painted BMW as part of a three-day celebration to mark the 40th anniversary of BMW M, and of course to celebrate their successful return to the DTM series.
Zanardi, who won two gold and one silver medal on his handbike at the Paralympic Games in London, didn’t need much time to get used to the car and according to BMW driving the technically complex DTM car proved to be no obstacle for the Italian, who lost both legs during a ChampCar accident in 2001 on the German Lausitzring.
BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt said about Zanardi, “I am delighted we have taken on this adventure successfully with Alessandro Zanardi. For years he has been a valued member of the BMW Motorsport family and is a great role model for us all. Despite his handicap, he approaches every challenge with great optimism and passes every test with flying colours.
“His medals at the Paralympic Games in London are fine examples of this, as are the four race victories he achieved in the FIA World Touring Car Championship for BMW Motorsport. As we have seen today, the challenge of driving the technically complex BMW M3 DTM also proved to be no obstacle for him.”
“I am overjoyed to have been given the opportunity to drive the BMW M3 DTM today,” said Zanardi. “This is a very special day for me, and one I will always remember fondly. I would like to thank everyone at BMW who has helped make this special moment possible for me. It was a challenge to modify the car to meet my requirements and I am surprised just how quickly the BMW Motorsport engineers managed to complete the necessary modifications.
“However, the guys have done a great job. I had great fun out on the track. When I first saw the golden car I was overwhelmed. I still have a passion for racing.”
But whether Zanardi will make a race return in the DTM series still remains uncertain, and Zanardi commented, “However, I’m not sure whether our demonstration drive will be anything more than just that, as the level in the DTM may possibly prove to be too high for someone of my age. As such, my main focus is on something completely different after today’s drive: I felt that the BMW family is still behind me and loves me. They showed that once again today.”
Canadian Bruno Spengler took the 2012 DTM crown for BMW after a 20-year absence, BMW also took the 2012 DTM manufacturer’s title, while BMW Team Schnitzer ended the season at the top of the team standings, and to top it off, BMW driver Brazilian Augusto Farfus was crowned Rookie of the Year 2012.