Grapevine: Zanardi Ready for Racing Return

Alex Zanardi will complete an incredible comeback on Sunday when he returns to competitive racing just two years and one month after losing his legs in an horrific 200mph smash.

Grapevine: Zanardi Ready for Racing Return

Alex Zanardi will complete an incredible comeback on Sunday when he returns to competitive racing just two years and one month after losing his legs in an horrific 200mph smash.

Italian Zanardi had both his legs amputated after colliding with Alex Tagliani in the German 500 CART race in 2001. But he will return to motor racing in a specially designed BMW European Touring Car at Monza on Sunday to complete a remarkable comeback.

"Two years ago I escaped death by a whisker," said Zanardi, 36, who walks with the use of prosthetic limbs. "Although the situation was really bad at the time, I set myself the goal of leading a normal life again at some time in the future.

"Today, I can walk, I swim, I go skiing, and now I will complete my vision by competing seriously in a race. I should like to thank the entire BMW Team Italy for this fantastic opportunity.

"I believe that sometimes in life it's difficult to regain your courage after a stroke of bad luck. If I manage to keep pace in Monza, I shall have reaffirmed my faith in myself. Where there's a will, there's a way."

Zanardi, who raced in Formula One with Williams but enjoyed more success and won two titles in the United States-based CART championship, had been leading the race at the Lausitzring in 2001 before his horrific crash.

He had pitted with 13 laps of the race remaining but as he rejoined the race he lost control and spun into the path of Tagliani, who hit Zanardi's car just ahead of the cockpit. The car disintegrated around the Italian driver's legs and he was knocked unconscious. Astonishingly, despite being given his last rites, he recovered and returned to his home in Monaco.

Since then, he has been training every day to regain fitness. He returned to the Lausitzring this year for a demonstration run in a specially modified CART machine and is determined to put up a strong performance in Sunday's race.

The one-off appearance had been made possible by Zanardi's brave battling spirit and his former Formula 3000 engineer Roberto Trevisan, now at Ravaglia Motorsport, who convinced the team to modify the machine for Zanardi to race.

The car's throttle has been moved to the steering wheel so that Zanardi can use his left hand to operate it while he uses his right to operate the gear lever and brakes with one of his prosthetic legs.

He drove the car in a test at Monza last month and Ravaglia said: "His performance is particularly impressive when you reflect on the obvious difficulties and the lack of training."

BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen is confident he will do a good job.

"It's an honour for us that Alex is able to make his dream come true and we are extremely happy to provide him with the support of all our expertise," Theissen said. "His project reflects the BMW Motorsport philosophy of always searching for new frontiers.

"Whatever the result of the race, Alex has already won through as far as I'm concerned."

shares
comments
Bahrain Confident Work Will be Completed in Time

Previous article

Bahrain Confident Work Will be Completed in Time

Next article

Renault to reduce vee-angle

Renault to reduce vee-angle
Load comments
The ill-fated Italian ace rendered an outsider at Ferrari Plus

The ill-fated Italian ace rendered an outsider at Ferrari

Anointed as Italy’s next great racing hero after the tragic death of Alberto Ascari, Luigi Musso was pushed out of favour at Ferrari by Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn. NIGEL ROEBUCK recalls a troubled soul…

Formula 1
Oct 3, 2021
The magic moments of modern racing's foremost all-rounder Plus

The magic moments of modern racing's foremost all-rounder

From Champ Car to Formula 1, NASCAR, back to IndyCar and now plying his trade in sportscars, Juan Pablo Montoya's career is remarkable for its versatility. Here, the Colombian reflects on 10 of his most significant moments along the way

Formula 1
Oct 2, 2021
Why F1’s best-sounding car flattered to deceive Plus

Why F1’s best-sounding car flattered to deceive

Matra’s MS120 married rocket technology to an engine which sputtered out far too often. STUART CODLING examines how the championship-winning constructor’s ambitious project to build car and engine under one roof came to fail

Formula 1
Oct 1, 2021
Why Perez won't be broken by his latest F1 disappointments Plus

Why Perez won't be broken by his latest F1 disappointments

It has been a tricky past few races for Sergio Perez. The Red Bull driver has mustered just 16 points since the British Grand Prix in July and the team's constructors' championship chances have taken a hit. Yet the Mexican remains optimistic that he has all the tools he needs to turn his performances around

Formula 1
Sep 30, 2021
How Sainz turned crash streak into his best Ferrari F1 weekend so far Plus

How Sainz turned crash streak into his best Ferrari F1 weekend so far

OPINION: Carlos Sainz Jr was one of the stars of the 2021 Russian Grand Prix. But he came into the weekend with a streak of recent crashes hanging over him. Here’s how the Ferrari newcomer worked to overcome those setbacks and deliver yet more success for his new team

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2021
The mid-season rule change that has left F1 teams scrambling Plus

The mid-season rule change that has left F1 teams scrambling

The technical directive issued by Formula 1 to reduce levels of automation in pitstops has given teams an unwelcome period of adjustment. Although safety was the primary goal, it has already had a significant impact on the title race and puts extra pressure on teams to deliver as the season reaches the business end

Formula 1
Sep 28, 2021
How the pandemic is continuing to bite F1 Plus

How the pandemic is continuing to bite F1

Uncertainty over the shape of the calendar doesn’t just vex the fans and the commercial rights holder. MARK GALLAGHER explains at how race promoters have been pushed to the financial brink

Formula 1
Sep 28, 2021
Hamilton at 100 wins: In his adversaries’ words Plus

Hamilton at 100 wins: In his adversaries’ words

Some 18 drivers have finished runner-up to Lewis Hamilton on his way to 100 wins. Three of those recall their battles with Formula 1’s centurion and give their personal insights into the seven-time world champion on his rise to unchartered territory

Formula 1
Sep 27, 2021