• Image Credit: BMW
Alessandro Zanardi hand cycle
  • Image Credit: BMW
Alex Zanardi hand cycle
  • Image Credit: BMW
Team Italy hand cycle
  • Image Credit: BMW
Despite having lost his legs in a crash at the Lausitzring in Germany fifteen years ago, Alex Zanardi isn't giving up on racing. He's emerged as a dominant force in para-cycling. Thanks in no small part to support from BMW, Zanardi has been competing in a variety of motor racing disciplines as well. But he's not quite satisfied yet.

Now 48 years old and at a severe physical disadvantage over other drivers, Alessandro has set his eyes on the Indianapolis 500. Speaking with Autosport, Zanardi revealed that he's discussed a potential drive in the next running of the famous American race with longtime friend and onetime teammate Jimmy Vasser, who now heads the KV Racing team in the IndyCar Series. Zanardi may try to secure a ride with another team instead, however, rather than strain his relationship with Vasser.

Long before his fateful accident – and subsequent return to racing with BMW in the World Touring Car Championship – Zanardi drove for Chip Ganassi Racing during the late 1990s. He switched back and forth between American open-wheels and Formula One, but despite winning two CART championships he never had the chance to drive at Indy. Zanardi seems up for the challenge, though, and says it wouldn't take much in the way of modifications for him to be able to drive the latest Dallara chassis.

This past weekend, Zanardi competed in his first 24-hour race at Spa, sharing a specially equipped BMW Z4 GT3 with DTM drivers Bruno Spengler and Timo Glock. They were forced to retire from the race despite a strong early performance. Shortly thereafter Zanardi headed to Switzerland where he and his teammates successfully defended their world title in the para-cycling relay race, crossing the finish line over a minute ahead of the second-placed American team. Obviously driven to win, we'd love to Zanardi him fulfill his dream of competing in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing in the coming years.
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From the cockpit of the BMW Z4 GT3 to the handcycle: BMW works driver Alessandro Zanardi wins relay gold at the UCI Para-cycling Road World Championship 2015.

Nottwil (CH), 29th July 2015. Perfect start for BMW works driver and BMW Brand Ambassador Alessandro Zanardi (IT) to the UCI Para-cycling Road World Championship 2015 in Nottwil (CH): the 48-year-old and the Italian relay team successfully defended their world championship title in the team relay. Zanardi travelled to Switzerland directly from Spa-Francorchamps (BE), where last weekend he contested his first ever 24-hour race in the BMW Z4 GT3. On their way to the gold medal, Zanardi and his team-mates Vittorio Podestà (IT) and Luca Mazzone (IT) completed six laps of the 2.9-kilometre circuit in 31 Minutes and 13 seconds, covering a total distance of 17.4 kilometres in the process. They crossed the finish line with a clear advantage of 1:11 minutes ahead of the USA team in second place. The bronze medal went to the Swiss relay team.

"I have to admit one part of my heart is still in the BMW Z4 GT3, as the 24-hour race was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life. But the rest of my heart was soon focused on Nottwil," said Zanardi. "Over the past three days I have managed to recover in a brilliant way, and I am delighted that I was able to help my team-mates claim our world championship title in the team relay. The conditions were very difficult today with rain and cold temperatures, but we managed to stay out of trouble, which was not easy. So I am very proud of the result and very encouraged for the coming days. I feel really good and I think I can do well in the next races."

Over the coming days, the individual races in the MH5 (men's handcycle) category are scheduled for Zanardi. On Friday, his mission will be to defend his world title in the individual time trial. He won this race in both 2013 and 2014. On Sunday, Zanardi will compete in the MH5 road race. He has been crowned World Champion in the road race in 2013 and finished runner-up last year. The results of this year's UCI Para-cycling Road World Championship count towards qualifying for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (BR).

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