And the legend will be at Spa. Alex Zanardi will compete in the Spa 24 Hours, getting his first drives in endurance racing, in a BMW Z4 GT3.
It’s known that the Italian driver lost his legs in a horrific accident when he was driving the CART Championship, but this doesn’t took him out of the race tracks, as he raced in touring cars until 2009, being competitive and winning races in adapted BMWs. This relationship with BMW brought him back to racing, in the Blancpain Sprint Series, as he did a solo drive last year and is expected to return.
But as the new focus is endurance racing, he can’t drive a 24-hour stint, having two team-mates to share the car, who will be announced later in time, but probably will come from BMW’s factory drivers list. Here is where the mission starts.
As the idea is to participate in the Pro Cup at Spa, he will have to share the car with non-disabled drivers, and as the components needed by Zanardi to drive are pretty different than the normal gear, BMW’s mission is to make the Z4 available to drive for Zanardi and his team-mates, and the pit-stop time to make these changes is in fact really short.
Ahead of the Belgian endurance classic, Zanardi will make the preparation during the Blancpain Endurance Series, competing at the Paul Ricard 1000, in June, and after that, he will take part in official Spa 24 Hours tests.
Something that can give a morale boost to Zanardi is that similar cases appeared recently.
One of them if of Staff Sgt. Liam Dwyer, who lost a leg during U.S. Marine service in Afghanistan, but last year raced in a Freedom Autosport-run Mazda MX-5 shared with Tom Long in the Continental Tire Sportscar Championship Street Tuner class, and even won a race at Lime Rock.
The other one is from MissionPossible by SorgRennsport, a team composed entirely of paralyzed drivers using an adapted BMW M235i Cup, who raced the 12 Hours of Zandvoort last year, finishing 5th in their class (Cup1) and 27th overall. They already made the first two races of the 24H Series this season, finishing fifth in the Cup1 class and 49th overall out of 89 entries, and finishing fourth in class and 42nd overall.
PHOTOS: BMW Motorsport, Freedom Autosport, Mission Possible