Alex Zanardi got the chance to sample BMW's title-winning 2012 M3 DTM at the Nurburgring this week.
Zanardi, who won two gold medals in the London Paralympic games, has previously worked alongside BMW during his time in the World Touring Car Championship and won four times driving for the ROAL Motorsport team.
The 46-year-old, who lost both his legs in a Champ Car accident at the Lausitzring in 2001, drove a specially modified BMW M3 DTM sporting a gold livery with three medals on the roof to acknowledge his success in the Paralympic Games back in the summer.
“I am overjoyed to have been given the opportunity to drive the BMW M3 DTM today,” said Zanardi. “This is a very special day for me, and one I will always remember fondly.
“I would like to thank everyone at BMW who has helped make this special moment possible for me. It was a challenge to modify the car to meet my requirements and I am surprised just how quickly the BMW Motorsport engineers managed to complete the necessary modifications. However, the guys have done a great job. I had great fun out on the track and when I first saw the golden car I was overwhelmed.”
In total he did 32 laps of the historic track and while he slotted seamlessly back into 'racing driver mode', he rejected suggestions it might be a prelude to a season in the DTM in 2013: “I still have a passion for racing. However, I'm not sure whether our demonstration drive will be anything more than just that, as the level in the DTM may possibly prove to be too high for someone of my age,” he conceded. “As such, my main focus is on something completely different after today's drive: I felt that the BMW family is still behind me and loves me. They showed that once again today.”
“I am delighted we have taken on this adventure successfully,” added BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt. “For years Alex has been a valued member of the BMW Motorsport family and is a great role model for us all.
“Despite his handicap, he approaches every challenge with great optimism and passes every test with flying colours.
“His medals at the Paralympic Games in London are fine examples of this, as are the four race victories he achieved in the FIA WTCC for BMW Motorsport. As we have seen today, the challenge of driving the technically complex BMW M3 DTM also proved to be no obstacle for him.”
Zanardi's outing in the BMW M3 DTM came as part of the three-day festivities to mark the 40th anniversary of BMW M, with the German manufacturers' current crop of DTM pilots - champion Bruno Spengler, Martin Tomczyk, Dirk Werner, Andy Priaulx, Augusto Farfus and test and development driver Marco Wittmann - also in attendance.