WTCC salutes Paralympic gold medal winner Zanardi

The former WTCC driver won gold again in Rio

By Emmanuel Touzot

16 September 2016 - 13:49
WTCC salutes Paralympic gold medal (…)

The FIA World Touring Car Championship is saluting Alex Zanardi after the former WTCC race winner claimed the gold medal in the H5 category of the Paralympic para-cycling competition in Rio earlier today.

Italian Zanardi, who lost his lower legs in an accident during a Champ Car race in 2001, raced for BMW in the WTCC for five seasons between 2005-2009, winning four times.

Since scaling back his motorsport activities, Zanardi has excelled in hand cycling events and was a double gold medal winner at the 2012 Paralympics in London.

In Rio, where he is competing in three different events, the 49-year-old took 28m36.81s to complete the 20-kilometre course along the coastline of Pontal near Rio and beat silver medallist Stuart Tripp of Australia by 2.7s.

“It has been a long journey, which basically started the day after the London games, when I decided that I would focus on a new horizon in my life and that this would be Rio,” Zanardi said. “You also need to know that the stadium and the facilities in Rio are built where they used to have the Indycar circuit. I have always been fast on that circuit, but never won a race. So deep inside I thought that this would be another opportunity to correct this. After the exciting years of preparation and coming here to a course that was not really my kind of course, it is just fantastic to finally enjoy the taste of gold once more.”

He continued: “I have to admit that it was hard when I realised after the first lap that I was only third and almost 20 seconds behind Stuart Tripp, who was leading at that time. But nevertheless I kept cranking, following my plan, executing my project. And I really pulled off a miracle on my second lap: not only I did not slow down, but I actually managed to increase my average power and sprint towards the end. So to win a gold medal by just 2.7 seconds like this is even more tasty than otherwise. I am very, very happy. I am very grateful to all the people who helped me to be here and to enjoy this great achievement today.”

Zanardi will compete again tomorrow, Thursday, in the road race before he links up with his Italian team-mates for the relay event on Friday.



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