Alex Zanardi impressed after extensive DTM test at Vallelunga

Alex Zanardi impressed after extensive DTM test at Vallelunga

Alex Zanardi
Photo: BMW Motorsport

Experienced race driver Alex Zanardi will be prepared for his highly-anticipated début in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters at the end of August, when the series hosts the first ever set of night races at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli between the 25th and 26th of August.

After the first set of laps completed at Italy’s Vallelunga circuit behind the wheel, the Italian felt that the development and progression of the efforts of him racing competitively was heading in the right direction.

“The test was great; all went really well and we are heading in the right direction. A lot is new, but I am coming to terms with it lap by lap. Thanks a lot to BMW – we´re getting ready for Misano,” admitted the 51-year-old, who completed a staggering 294 laps around the 4.085-km circuit.

As a paraplegic, Zanardi will not have to use his usual prosthesis that have allowed him to compete in the WTCC, sportscars and endurance racing, thanks to the strides forward made in the development of the technology that will allow him to race at Misano.

He was also impressed with the rate of progress that has been shown, since both he and BMW Motorsport had come up with the original ideas to help him get back into the race seat.

Instead of using a leg prosthesis to allow him to brake, Zanardi will now use his hand via a lever to brake, giving him a better chance of remaining competitive with a higher energy level, instead of being hindered by the previous system.

“Driving a race car like the BMW M4 DTM is physically very demanding. For me, it would be far more strenuous if I were to continue to brake with my prosthesis as I have done up to now.”

The Italian has not been behind the wheel of a race car for the last two years, but despite the initial feeling being strange of how the system now operates, he felt pretty comfortable after several laps.

“But I have to say, the whole system worked very intuitively for me. I am getting along excellently with it.”

The fast-tracked development is also being used in preparation for his début at the 2019 Daytona 24 Hours, which will also put the system into a real-time racing situation.

“It is going to be a huge event for me – and probably one of the most difficult tasks I have ever faced in my motor racing career,” he admitted, saying that the DTM is the “most fiercely-competitive racing series in the world and the one with the best field.”

“It’s even better than Formula 1. I will try to finish ahead of at least one car. Let’s see whether I manage it. It is going to be tough, but very interesting.”