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Zanardi completes 'magic' first Blancpain GT test

Friday, January 24 2014

Alex Zanardi has completed his first run in the ROAL Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3 that he will race in this season's Blancpain Sprint Series, including the Brands Hatch round on 17/18 May.

The former two-time CART Champion and double Paralympic Gold medallist drove the Z4, which has been specially adapted with hand controls, at Italy's Adria circuit. Driving for the ROAL Motorsport team, with whom he competed in the World Touring Car Championship taking several wins, he declared himself satisfied with the car.

"I don't want to sound too excited, but it was at least as good as I could have dreamt it would be," the Italian said. "The car is so nice to drive and I am back with a team where I am meeting a lot of old friends. The BMW Z4 GT3 is a lot of fun, it is powerful and it suits my natural driving style quite well.

"Regarding all the special controls that are necessary for a guy like me to drive the machine, the starting point was certainly as good as we could hope for," he continued. "For sure there is still a lot of work to do, but I have no doubt we will get the job done. With what we have learned on this first day, we know what we have to do. We will now use a brake pedal of a different size and modify the throttle mechanism. Overall, the outcome of my first day of testing could not have been better and I am pretty confident we definitely have enough time to show up well prepared for the first race."

"It was a magic day, with Alex coming back to the track and to us", added team boss Roberto Ravaglia. "We had many great years together in the WTCC, and so we are delighted that Alex decided, together with BMW, to return to motorsport and to race with ROAL Motorsport again. When he was going out of the garage it was a very emotional moment. I have to admit that I was close to crying when he drove down the pit-lane in our car.

"The first test went very well. We confirmed that the special equipment we developed for him together with BMW Motorsport is working. Certainly we have to improve and modify a lot of things, but we are happy with this first test. Alex did around 150 kilometres and, despite that fact that he has been away from motor racing for four years, he still did really good lap times. I am confident that we can do a good job during this season in the Blancpain GT Sprint Series."

Tickets for the Blancpain Sprint Series at Brands Hatch on 17/18 May will be available shortly. In the meantime Brands Hatch and MSV four wheel season passes are on sale. Click here for more details.