Zanardi: Super GT/DTM entry valuable for Paralympics preparation

Two-time CART champion Alex Zanardi says competing in the 'Super GT x DTM Dream Race' for BMW was "very valuable" for his 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games preparations

Zanardi: Super GT/DTM entry valuable for Paralympics preparation

Last weekend, Zanardi raced a specially adapted BMW M4 DTM that included a revised handbrake system, which accounted for the DTM's change to using four-cylinder turbocharged engines for 2019.

He retired from the opening race with an engine problem and went on to take 13th in the wild finale.

Zanardi aims to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games, after winning four gold medals at London '12 and Rio '16, and the handcycling competition will take place at the Fuji circuit.

Around last Thursday's test running for Super GT cars, Zanardi took to the track in his handcycle and used the weekend overall to collect data for his future training programme.

"This trip was very valuable for me because I brought my handcycle and I was able to train around the course," Zanardi told Autosport.

"Not that this is like motorsport, where you can test, but you can find the right set-up or at least learn the set-up very well.

"Once you've been around [the track], you know already what you have to train for.

"This is what I'm bringing home - it's very valuable information.

"Now I know what I have to train for at the last part of the circuit, which I didn't know because it wasn't available on previous days.

"But now I've got all the information that I need. And it's just a question of sitting down with my trainer, trying to prepare a good programme from now on.

"And then live another adventure - adventurous preparation towards the Paralympic Games - which, at the age of 53, quite frankly, is a real gift."

The turbocharged engine was expected to provide a more difficult challenge for Zanardi due to its different behaviour compared to the previous four-litre V8s.

But Zanardi said "the power was never too much" and explained that his real difficulty was in managing the 2018-spec Hankook tyre with a more powerful engine.

Zanardi was several seconds off the pace in practice and qualifying, but ultimately improved in the Sunday's race due to its stop-start nature.

"When you cannot get the temperature in the tyre, you don't get grip," he said.

"When you finally get a little bit of grip, you can push harder and generate even more temperature.

"So if you are not able to pass that line and to finally make things click in, then you may suffer our gap - that at some point was quite embarrassing, to be honest with you."

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Series DTM
Author Tom Errington
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