Alex Zanardi: Wikis

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Alex Zanardi

In 2007, as a WTCC driver
Nationality Italy Italian
Date of birth October 23, 1966 (1966-10-23) (age 43)
Place of birth Bologna
2010 World Touring Car Championship
Debut season 2005
Current team BMW Team Italy-Spain
Car no. 9
Starts 105
Wins 4
Poles 1
Fastest laps 4
Best finish 10th in 2005
Previous series
1992,2005-06
2003-04
1997-98, 2001
1991-94, 99
1996
1989 & 91
1988-90
Italian Superturismo
ETCC
Champ Car World Series
Formula One
Indycar Series
F3000 International
Italian F3
Championship titles
2005
1997-98
1990
Italian Superturismo
Champ Car
European F3 Cup
Formula One World Championship career
Active years 19911994, 1999
Teams Jordan, Minardi, Lotus, Williams
Races 44 (41 starts)
Championships 0
Wins 0
Podiums 0
Career points 1
Pole positions 0
Fastest laps 0
First race 1991 Spanish Grand Prix
Last race 1999 Japanese Grand Prix

Alessandro "Alex" Zanardi (born October 23, 1966) is an Italian racing driver. He won two CART championship titles in North America during the late 1990s. He also had a less successful career as a Formula One driver. More recently, he has attracted widespread praise for his return to competition in the aftermath of a crash in 2001 that resulted in the amputation of his legs. As of 2009, he competes in the FIA World Touring Car Championship for BMW Team Italy-Spain.

Contents

Biography

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Early years

Alex Zanardi was born in Bologna, Italy and moved with his family to the village of Castel Maggiore on the outskirts of the city when he was four.[1] His sister was a promising swimmer until her death in an automobile collision.[2]

Zanardi began racing karts at the age of 13. In 1988, he joined the Italian Formula 3 series, becoming a championship contender by 1990. In 1991, he moved up to the Formula 3000 series with the Il Barone Rampante team, who were themselves newcomers to the series. Winning on his F3000 debut, he went on to score two more wins that season, en route to second in the championship.

Formula One part one

By the end of 1991 he had commenced his career in Formula One. Three starts for Jordan were his reward for a strong F3000 campaign.

For 1992 Zanardi had to be content with guest drives for Minardi, replacing the injured Christian Fittipaldi. In the off-season, he tested for Benetton, but contracted with Lotus for 1993. Zanardi compared reasonably to teammate Johnny Herbert and was important in fine-tuning the team's active suspension system, scoring his first ever F1 point at the Brazilian Grand Prix. However, his season ended prematurely after he suffered a terrible crash during practice for the Belgian Grand Prix.

Still injured, Zanardi missed the beginning of the 1994 season, but he returned in the Spanish Grand Prix, replacing Pedro Lamy, who had been hurt in a testing crash. However, that year's Lotus was highly unreliable, and Zanardi failed to score a single point or qualify higher than 13th. When Lotus' F1 effort collapsed at the end of the year, Zanardi spent a brief time in Sports car racing in 1995, his Formula One career seemingly over.

Champ Car

In 1996, Zanardi made the switch to CART, having won a seat at Chip Ganassi Racing. The team's race engineer Mo Nunn advised Chip against signing him, as he believed Italian drivers were too prone to mistakes. Tellingly, Mo later signed Alex for his own team.

He rapidly became one of the series' most popular drivers. He took pole for his second race, although his first win didn't come until mid-season. In total he won three races in his rookie season and five pole positions[3], finishing in a tie for second in the championship points (officially scored third as Michael Andretti had won more races) behind team-mate Jimmy Vasser (who did not win after round 6 of the season) and being named Champ Racing Rookie of the Year. He would win the championship for Ganassi in both 1997 and 1998, bringing home twelve victories.

A win came at Laguna Seca for the final race of the 1996 season, where he conducted a highly risky overtaking move at the Corkscrew corner (known to many racing fans as 'The Pass'; the maneuver was banned for future years), on race leader Bryan Herta, having fought his way through the field. After winning a race, Zanardi was fond of spinning his car around in tight circles, leaving circular donut-shaped patterns of tyre rubber on the track; this would eventually become a popular means of celebrating race wins all across America.

Formula One part two

Zanardi driving for Williams at the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix.

Zanardi's CART success caught the eye of Sir Frank Williams, who gave him a three-year contract in 1999. In pre-season testing, he was fast; however, everything went downhill from there. Plagued by numerous reliability issues, Zanardi also made a series of crucial errors, his F1 return in Australia a prime example. He was consistently outpaced by team-mate Ralf Schumacher and rumours spread that he would not last long at Williams. A late season up-turn in speed seemed to signal a breakthrough. At both Spa and Monza he looked competitive, but problems cost him a good result. At Monza he had qualified an impressive fourth and briefly held second, but brake difficulties curtailed his pace and he dropped to seventh. The season ended with Zanardi failing to maintain his Monza form; he was dropped for 2000. Jenson Button replaced him.

CART return and Lausitzring crash

In the 2000 season Zanardi was not signed for a team, but was interested in a CART comeback. He tested for Mo Nunn and opted to sign to the team for 2001, however he was not successful for the most part. In his most competitive race of 2001, he suffered a violent accident at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz on September 15.

The crash occurred while Zanardi was leading the race in the closing laps. After a late pit stop, Zanardi was attempting to merge back onto the track when he accelerated abruptly and spun into the path of Patrick Carpentier. Carpentier was able to avoid him, but Alex Tagliani was not and Zanardi's car was impacted from the side, behind the front wheel, splitting the monocoque in half. The collision amputated both of his legs above the knee. Zanardi lost a large amount of blood, but the medical teams arrived quickly and he survived. This was the end of his open-wheel racing career.

Subsequent life and career

Zanardi was fitted with two prosthetic limbs and began an ambitious rehabilitation program. Dissatisfied with the limitations of legs available commercially, Zanardi designed and built his own bespoke legs, to allow him to compare the weight and stiffness of various feet in order to find the most suitable for racing. In 2002, CART honoured Zanardi by giving him the privilege of waving the checkered flag in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In 2003, Zanardi was not only back behind the wheel, he was also racing again, with the aid of hand-operated brake and accelerator controls. He completed the final thirteen laps at the race track which had nearly killed him in 2001, and did so at highly competitive speeds approaching 310 km/h (193 mph). In fact, had he been qualifying for the race that weekend, he would have been fifth. It was a fitting testament to his recovery and persuaded him that a race return was something to pursue.

Zanardi driving a BMW 320si WTCC car at Brands Hatch in 2008.

Zanardi competed in his first race since the accident at Monza, Italy, in a touring car modified to allow the use of his prosthetic feet, finishing the race quite impressively in seventh. In 2004, Zanardi returned to racing full-time, driving for Roberto Ravaglia's BMW Team Italy-Spain in the FIA European Touring Car Championship. The season did not see him score many points, but for 2005 matters were much improved, in a series which became the World Touring Car Championship by adding two non-European races. On August 24, 2005, Zanardi won his first world series race since his accident at Lausitzring. He had taken advantage of the championship's reverse grid system, in which by finishing the weekend's first race in 8th, a driver starts the second on pole. Still, Zanardi had held off attacks from several drivers, and duly celebrated his win with a series of trademark "donuts". He then finished the season strongly. He took further wins at Istanbul in 2006 and Brno in 2008 and 2009. At the end of the 2009 season he announced his retirement from the WTCC.[4]

Since 2004, he has had his own range of kart chassis, called the Zanardi which has been raced in the European Championships by Martin Plowman. Plowman won the Asia-Pacific Championship for Zanardi just three months after the formation of the company. In 2006, 2007 and 2008, several Zanardi karts took part in the CIK-FIA World Championship and ICA World Cup.

Zanardi returned to a Formula 1 car in late November 2006 at a testing session for BMW Sauber in Valencia, Spain. The car had been specially adapted to have hand controls fitted on the steering wheel. After the drive Zanardi told the main problem he was having was using only his right hand to steer through corners, as his left operated the throttle.[5] Zanardi was quoted as saying, "Of course, I know that I won't get a contract with the Formula One team, however having the chance to drive an F1 racer again is just incredible."[6][7]

In 2007 he achieved 4th place in the New York City Marathon in the handcycle division,[8] after only four weeks of training. He has since taken up handcycling in earnest, and competed at the Para-Cycling Road World Championships in 2009. He has stated that he is now targeting a place in the Italian team for the 2012 Summer Paralympics.[9] In 2009 he won the Venice Marathon in the category for the disabled, riding his wheelchair in 1h13'56".

Zanardi has been married to Daniela (née Manni) since 1996, and they have a son, Niccolò. He has co-written two books based on his life, Alex Zanardi: My Story (2004) and Alex Zanardi: My Sweetest Victory (2004).

Zanardi and his story have been featured on the HBO sports series Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.

Zanardi Edition NSX

Alex Zanardi Edition Acura NSX, basically a Japanese Honda NSX Type S variant, was introduced in 1999 for the U.S. market to commemorate his two back-to-back championship wins in 1997 and 1998 in the North American CART Champ Car open wheel racing series. Only 51 examples were ever built, and all were painted New Formula Red to reflect the color of the Champ Car he drove to 2 titles for Chip Ganassi Racing. Number 0 was a press car, while number 1 was a gift from Acura/Honda to Zanardi himself. Numbers 2 through 50 were sold to the general public through Acura dealerships across the nation.

Racing Record

Complete Formula One results

(key)

Yr Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 WDC Points
1991 Team 7UP Jordan Jordan 191 Ford V8 USA
BRA
SMR
MON
CAN
MEX
FRA
GBR
GER
HUN
BEL
ITA
POR
ESP
9
JPN
Ret
AUS
9
NC 0
1992 Minardi Team Minardi M192 Lamborghini V12 RSA
MEX
BRA
ESP
SMR
MON
CAN
FRA
GBR
DNQ
GER
Ret
HUN
DNQ
BEL
ITA
POR
JPN
AUS
NC 0
1993 Team Lotus Lotus 107B Ford V8 RSA
Ret
BRA
6
EUR
8
SMR
Ret
ESP
14
MON
7
CAN
11
FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
GER
Ret
HUN
Ret
BEL
DNS
ITA
POR
JPN
AUS
20th 1
1994 Team Lotus Lotus 107C Mugen Honda V10 BRA
PAC
SMR
MON
ESP
9
CAN
15
NC 0
Lotus 109 FRA
Ret
GBR
Ret
GER
Ret
HUN
13
BEL
ITA
Ret
POR
EUR
16
JPN
13
AUS
Ret
1999 Winfield Williams Williams FW21 Supertec V10 AUS
Ret
BRA
Ret
SMR
11
MON
8
SPA
Ret
CAN
Ret
FRA
Ret
GBR
11
AUT
Ret
GER
Ret
HUN
Ret
BEL
8
ITA
7
EUR
Ret
MAL
10
JPN
Ret
NC 0

Complete WTCC results

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position) (Races in italics indicate fastest lap)

Year Team Car 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Position Points
2005 BMW Team Italy/Spain BMW 320i ITA FRA UK SMR MEX BEL GER TUR ESP MAC 10th 36
10 7 15 25 23 DNS 8 6 13 Ret WD WD 8 1 6 3 8 5 13 4
2006 BMW Team Italy/Spain BMW 320si ITA FRA UK GER BRA MEX CZE TUR ESP MAC 11th 26
7 23 14 Ret 10 9 24 13 10 3 17 Ret 2 22 1 9 15 17 23 9
2007 BMW Team Italy-Spain BMW 320si BRA NED ESP FRA CZE POR SWE GER UK ITA MAC 15th 14
7 6 12 11 Ret DNS Ret 9 3 20 16 15 20 15 Ret 15 15 Ret 13 6 10 Ret
2008 BMW Team Italy-Spain BMW 320si BRA MEX ESP FRA CZE POR UK GER EUR ITA JPN MAC 13th 36
15 11 15 11 12 18 12 11 1 2 20 13 4 3 12 19 12 9 8 7 13 Ret 23 5
2009 BMW Team Italy-Spain BMW 320si BRA MEX MAR FRA ESP CZE POR UK GER ITA JPN MAC 12th 31
10 14 13 6 Ret DNS NC 5 12 5 1 Ret 12 10 12 12 17 Ret 4 4 15 17 9 9

References

  1. ^ Zanardi, Alex (2004). Alex Zanardi: My Story. City: Haynes Publishing. pp. 13. ISBN 184425108X.  
  2. ^ "Zanardi the brave". guardian.co.uk. http://observer.guardian.co.uk/osm/story/0,,766954,00.html. Retrieved 2008-03-06.  
  3. ^ Wicker, Ned. IndyCar Champion - A Season with Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, Motorbooks International, 1997, page 7
  4. ^ http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/80340
  5. ^ "Driver who lost both legs returns to F1". carsnaps.com. http://www.carsnaps.com/news.php?id=39. Retrieved 2008-03-06.  
  6. ^ "Zanardi to return to F1 cockpit". BBC. 2006-10-30. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/6100256.stm. Retrieved 2008-03-06.  
  7. ^ "Zanardi makes happy return to F1". BBC. 2006-11-25. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/motorsport/formula_one/6178832.stm. Retrieved 2008-03-06.  
  8. ^ "Zanardi_4th_in_N.Y.C._marathon". tsn.ca. http://www.tsn.ca/auto_racing/news_story/?ID=222195&hubname=auto_racing. Retrieved 2008-03-06.  
  9. ^ "Zanardi aims for Paralympic place". BBC. 2009-09-10. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/other_sports/disability_sport/8249435.stm. Retrieved 2009-09-14.  

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Gianni Morbidelli
FIA European Formula Three Cup winner
1990
Succeeded by
Benoît Tréluyer (1999)
Preceded by
Jimmy Vasser
CART Series
Champion

1997-1998
Succeeded by
Juan Pablo Montoya
Preceded by
Adriano de Micheli
Italian Touring Car
Champion

2005
Succeeded by
Roberto Colciago
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Gil de Ferran
CART Rookie of the Year
1996
Succeeded by
Patrick Carpentier
Preceded by
Hermann Maier
Laureus World Sports Award
For Comeback of the Year

2005
Succeeded by
Martina Hingis

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