Zanardi in his Z4 GT3 for the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. Photo credit: BMW

Two-time CART champion, ex-Formula 1 driver, and winner of paralympic gold medals Alex Zanardi will be driving a BMW M8 GTEs at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2019, BMW announced this weekend. Zanardi lost both legs after a CART crash in 2001, so the new BMW will be modified to work for him but still be shareable with other drivers.

Zanardi will spend 2018 preparing for Daytona next year and helping develop the new-for-2018 M8 GTE race car with a particular focus on the car’s braking system, reports Autoblog.

One of the reasons why we can’t help but to root for Zanardi was his determination to get back into a car. After a hardcore rehabilitation program, he was back racing cars in 2003 with the help of hand controls. He spent five seasons driving for BMW in the World Touring Car Championship, another season driving a Z4 GT3 in the Blancpain Sprint Series, and has even tested Formula One and DTM cars and competed in the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.

Zanardi’s custom steering wheel from the 24 Hours of Spa, which fitted to the steering column and could be swapped easily with the normal steering wheel. Photo credit: BMW

Advertisement

BMW developed a bespoke solutions to allow Zanardi to use his hand controls and keep his foot out of the way, but still do quick driver changes with non-amputee teammates at the 24 Hours of Spa, so I’m sure we’ll see a similar quick-swap system for the M8 GTE.

Still, with the 24 Hours of Daytona now attracting current F1 drivers who want the extra challenge, this could be one of Zanardi’s most challenging post-amputation races yet.