Zanardi: Daytona 24 Hours debut more sweet than bitter despite issues

Alex Zanardi says his first Daytona 24 Hours experience was "by far more sweet than bitter" despite multiple issues leaving his BMW last in the GT Le Mans class

Zanardi: Daytona 24 Hours debut more sweet than bitter despite issues

The two Rahal Letterman Lanigan-run BMW M8 GTEs bookended the class in last weekend's rain-affected IMSA SportsCar season opener, with the #25 entry shared by Connor de Phillippi, Colton Herta, Philipp Eng and Augusto Farfus taking victory.

But the #24 car Zanardi shared with Jesse Krohn, John Edwards and Chaz Mostert was plagued by problems that left it 18 laps down on the winning sister car.

Zanardi and his team-mates hit trouble on Saturday evening when their car was dropped off its air jacks in the pits at the same moment that the Italian was attaching his specially-adapted steering wheel with hand controls, damaging the steering column.

That was compounded by a puncture for Krohn overnight that sent the car back to the pits for lengthy repairs.

"I should say bittersweet, but in reality it was by far more sweet than bitter," said two-time CART champion and Paralympic gold medallist Zanardi when asked what his overriding emotion was after the race.

"Of course from a sporting point of view it was a little bitter.

"We were aiming for a result which I believe was technically achievable. The team was strong, as strong as the #25.

"We initially had this bad obstacle that put us eight laps down, and then there was a rush to get back [and] halfway into the race we were only three laps down, so it was certainly possible to change everything around once more.

"The speed was there, it was not a question of not having the speed to deliver, and if we had come back to the lead lap, who knows?"

Zanardi said he was "very happy" for his team-mates in the #25 car and reserved praise for Farfus, who backed up his FIA GT World Cup victory for BMW at Macau last November with a first win at Daytona.

The Brazilian took the lead late in the race by passing Laurens Vanthoor's Porsche and James Calado's Ferrari in treacherous conditions.

"I think even if I had 10 legs I wouldn't have been able to do what Augusto did in the last two hours," said Zanardi. "To me it's amazing.

"I said to him two days ago, 'What you did in Macau in my eyes, is as big as Lewis Hamilton winning the F1 world championship'.

"I think what he did was amazing, and I told him today, 'What you did today is more than what you did then [in Macau]'.

"He really drove the hell out of the car."

shares
comments
Ford Daytona loss after comeback from five laps down a kick in teeth

Previous article

Ford Daytona loss after comeback from five laps down a kick in teeth

Next article

Nasr regrets 'fantastic' Alonso Daytona 24 Hours battle ended early

Nasr regrets 'fantastic' Alonso Daytona 24 Hours battle ended early
Load comments
How the next step in the IMSA and WEC convergence can reunite multiple fronts Plus

How the next step in the IMSA and WEC convergence can reunite multiple fronts

OPINION: Following the latest convergence connection permitting Le Mans Hypercars from the World Endurance Championship to compete against LMDh entries in the IMSA SportsCar Championship from 2023, it could open up enticing options not only to manufacturers but also for the calendar and race formats

WEC
Jul 13, 2021
Why IMSA glory for Mazda would be a bittersweet ending Plus

Why IMSA glory for Mazda would be a bittersweet ending

Mazda believes it has never had a better chance of clinching the title in IMSA's Prototype division. Achieving this goal would be the bittersweet culmination of an achingly hard struggle, after which the brand has decided to quit

IMSA
Apr 11, 2021
The groundbreaking new boss leading GM's sportscar assault Plus

The groundbreaking new boss leading GM's sportscar assault

After taking over Corvette Racing from long-time custodian Doug Fehan, 34-year-old Laura Wontrop Klauser is leading General Motors through a transitional phase in sportscar racing. Here’s how she got into her dream role and what she plans to do with it

IMSA
Mar 21, 2021
Nine things to look out for at the 2021 Daytona 24 Hours Plus

Nine things to look out for at the 2021 Daytona 24 Hours

After a 100-minute sprint race to whet the appetite, the 2021 IMSA SportsCar Championship gets underway properly this weekend. With plenty of significant changes during the winter, here are the key points you need to keep an eye on

IMSA
Jan 29, 2021
Why Magnussen is relishing a fresh start in sportscars Plus

Why Magnussen is relishing a fresh start in sportscars

Having gone over seven years without a race win through spells with McLaren, Renault and Haas, Kevin Magnussen's departure from Formula 1 for IMSA with big-hitter Chip Ganassi Racing could give him what he craves most - a chance of success

IMSA
Jan 29, 2021
Oliver Gavin's Corvette Racing highlights Plus

Oliver Gavin's Corvette Racing highlights

Oliver Gavin has stepped down from the full-time Corvette Racing line-up after a stellar career with the team spanning nearly 20 years. He looks back on a stint that encompassed, among other successes, five Le Mans 24 Hours victories

IMSA
Jan 28, 2021
The 12 greatest Sebring 12 Hours ranked Plus

The 12 greatest Sebring 12 Hours ranked

The 2020 edition of the Florida sportscar classic is finally taking place this weekend, eight months after its traditional date in March. That meant there was plenty of time for Autosport to pour over its previous 67 races and select the best

IMSA
Nov 11, 2020
When Porsche became a giant-killer Plus

When Porsche became a giant-killer

In the first of a new series celebrating underdog achievements from the annals of motorsport history, we revisit the 2015 Petit Le Mans - where a tyre advantage in appallingly wet conditions helped the GT cars overcome the prototypes

IMSA
Apr 15, 2020