Alex Zanardi has completed his first outing with the BMW Z4 GT3 that he will race for ROAL Motorsport in the Blancpain GT Sprint Series this season.
The Italian will make his return to racing in the series this season having been named as BMW factory driver for the year ahead, with the test being used to allow Zanardi to become acquainted with his new car.
It also gave the Roberto Ravaglia-run team the chance to collect information on how best to modify the car to meet Zanardi's needs for the season ahead.
“I don't want to sound too excited, but it was at least as good as I could have dreamt it would be,” Zanardi, who previously raced with the team in the World Touring Car Championship, 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. 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 mechanical system with which I control the throttle mechanism, in order to allow me to accelerate perfectly out of corners. 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.”
Team boss Ravaglia meanwhile was pleased with the way the test had panned as Zanardi returned to action.
“It was a magic day, with Alex coming back to the track and to us,” he said. “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.”