BMW has confirmed that Alessandro Zanardi will be one of its three drivers for the joint DTM and Japanese Super GT race which will take place at the Fuji Speedway in Japan in November.
Zanardi has a long-standing relationship with BMW, having made his touring car début with the manufacturer in 2003. The Italian remained with BMW’s works touring car programme until it scaled back its World Touring Car Championship programme in 2009, collecting four race wins in the process.
The 52-year-old then made a return to racing with BMW in 2018 when he was a guest driver in the DTM’s Italian round at Misano, picking up a creditable fifth-place finish in race two.
Zanardi is the first of BMW’s three drivers for the race, dubbed the ‘SUPER GT x DTM Dream Race’, to be confirmed. Audi are set to send four cars to the event.
“Nobody has forgotten Alex Zanardi’s magnificent guest DTM start at Misano in 2018,” said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “As such, we are delighted that he will now be returning to the wheel of the BMW M4 DTM as part of our dream team for Fuji.
“Alex inspires people all over the world and it is fantastic to have him on board in Japan. We are confident that he will cause just as much of a buzz as he did at Misano and most recently at the 24 Hours of Daytona. We will reveal the drivers to complete our trio at Fuji at a later date.”
Zanardi will race in a specially-modified BMW M4 DTM which features a handbrake system and an accelerator ring on the steering wheel, to allow him to drive without using his artificial legs.
In preparation for the event Zanardi, who took part in the 24 Hours of Daytona in a BMW M8 GTE January this year, will race in the penultimate round of the Italian GT Championship at Mugello in a BMW M6 GT3.
“To compete in the Dream Race with the DTM and Super GT is something wonderful for me,” said Zanardi. “The word ‘wonderful’ is probably used too often, but it is really appropriate in this case.
“The mere fact that I am still able to go racing is like a gift for me anyway. However, the BMW M4 DTM is definitely one of the best race cars I have driven in my career.
“Plus, I will have an extra 100 hp under the bonnet this year. It is going to be fantastic, and I am extremely grateful to BMW Motorsport for this opportunity.
“I know that racing in the DTM is a huge challenge, as all the drivers are highly-professional and excellently prepared. And this time we will also have the drivers from Super GT too.
“As such, my expectations are not too great, from a sporting perspective. I just want to perform to the best of my ability and put on a display worthy of the event.
“On the whole, however, I am sure that this is going to be another great chapter in my motor racing career.”