Look up 'irresistible force' in the dictionary, and a photo of Alessandro Zanardi surely won't be far away. The 47-year-old Italian is well on course for a return to motor racing action this season in the 2014 Blancpain Sprint Series, after a successful comprehensive test of his specially customised BMW Z4 GT3 this week.
“Honestly, it is very hard not to totally show my enthusiasm, and I don't want to sound too overconfident, but after this test I have every reason to be confident”, summed up Zanardi after several days of testing with ROAL Motorsport at the Autodromo Vallelunga near Rome.
"Not only the throttle mechanism, the brake pedal and the special clutch, but also all the other controls created for my personal needs are working so well we were able to focus on the set-up of the car. Just this fact is good news," he enthused.
The customisations are needed in order to allow Zanardi to drive competitively again despite having lost both his legs in a racing accident in Germany in 2001. The former Williams F1 driver originally returned to motor racing with BMW just two years after the horrific accident, competing in the FIA World Touring Car Championship where he claimed four race wins.
More recently he set his sights on achieving double gold medal success in the cycling at the 2012 Paralympics in London. Having accomplished that, the remarkable force of nature is this year now returning to his first true love of motor racing for the first time since 2009.
"The BMW Z4 GT3 is literally sheer driving pleasure," said Zanardi. "We are going home with a lot of information, and it is going to be tough to improve even further. But nevertheless, we are going to keep pushing because we are all highly motivated and excited about this opportunity and this project we are doing together. Therefore I am very, very happy and I can't wait to get in the car again.
“We are pretty happy because the work done since the first outing with Alex at Adria was successful”, contributed Roberto Ravaglia, the team principal of ROAL Motorsport. “We could improve many things and are already in a pretty good shape. All the special systems are working quite well.
"In addition, Alex was able to do a lot of laps here in Vallelunga to understand the car on a proper circuit and he started to work on the set-up," Ravaglia continued. "I have to say that I was actually surprised: in Adria, which is not a difficult circuit, he was already doing well, but here in Vallelunga he was even better.
"I am confident that Alex could already be quite competitive in the first races."