ETCC: Monza: Fisichella, Zanardi profiles

New drivers in the FIA ETCC and some special guests. Giancarlo FISICHELLA nationality Italian age 30 career highlights Twice runner-up in the European Karting Championship (1989/1991) Italian F3 champion and winner of the Montecarlo F3...

New drivers in the FIA ETCC and some special guests.

nationality Italian
age 30
career highlights

Twice runner-up in the European Karting Championship (1989/1991)
Italian F3 champion and winner of the Montecarlo F3 GP (1994)
6th in the International Touring Car Championship for Alfa (1996)
1996/2003 Formula One: 124 Grands Prix, 1 win, 9 podium results

6th in the Formula One World Championship (2000)
races the Autodelta #66 Alfa Romeo 156 Gta "This is definitely a special season for me. I won my first Grand Prix in one of the toughest Formula One championships ever. And then, a couple of weeks ago, I had this call from Alfa Romeo, inviting me to race here. From the start I was very enthusiastic about this. I'm happy to be here, and I will try my best to help Alfa Romeo to win the Championship, but also to achieve the best result for myself. Obviously the ETCC Alfa 156 Gta is quite different from a Formula One car, and they have already informed me that at the first chicane I have to brake at least 50 metres earlier-- It's going to be quite difficult at the beginning to understand how to handle the car, how to brake and use the power. It's going to be a tough job, because we'll have only one hour of practice tomorrow, before the qualifying. It's not enough, but this is all we have. And I have to find a way to get the most out of it."

Alessandro ZANARDI
nationality Italian
age 36
career highlights
European Karting champion (1987)
winner of the FIA European F3 Cup (1990)
runner-up in the FIA F3000 International Championship (1991)
1991/1994 and 1999 Formula One: 40 Grands Prix, best result 6th
twice Formula CART Champion (1997/1998)

races the BMW Team Italy-Spain #33 BMW 320i
"I'm obviously very happy to be here, and I don't need to explain why. My professional career is behind me. A career which gave me a lot of sporting, and also financial satisfactions. Now I'm here to have fun. I love motor sports, and this is the reason why I'm coming back to it. Certainly I do not feel as prepared as I used to be. I don't know the car well enough yet, as I just had a few days of testing. I'd love to be more prepared, but nevertheless I will try to give my best in order to leave the track on Sunday night satisfied, knowing that I have done the best I could possibly achieve. Let me tell you that I'm very proud because so many people have an interest in my story. A lot of people gave me their sympathy, and told me that I am a source of inspiration for them. But I don't have the feeling that I am a special person. I'm just a man who is trying to get back to his normal life and activities. And this is the reason why, from now on I would like to do more racing and less talking--"


Jimmy Vasser and Tony Kanaan flew from the States to support Alex Zanardi on his racing comeback. "He's such a good friend of mine," said Kanaan, who was classified fourth in the 2003 IRL series. "I did not want to miss this important day for him. And this was also an opportunity for me to visit the Tatuus people, who are based near Monza and with whom I started my racing career in the Italian F3 Championship ten years ago. But the main reason was to see Alex come back to racing. I was not surprised when I was told he had decided to race in Monza, because I knew he had this idea in mind. I found him to be in fantastic shape, and his eyes are bright. I'm so happy for him." Vasser, who was Zanardi's team mate at Chip Ganassi Racing in the Formula CART years, was also pleased. "You should have seen Alex's face when we showed up today. He couldn't believe it, and was almost weeping. Three weeks ago he told me he was going to race again, and I wanted to give him a big surprise by coming along. I would not have missed it. I'm not surprised he's back. He may have lost his legs, but he did not lose his spirit and his love for motor racing. I won't be surprised to see him at the front either."

Alex Zanardi's BMW Team Italy-Spain car, has been equipped with a system to assist him in driving, designed and realised by the Italian company Fadiel. In order to enable him to drive a racing car, despite having lost both his legs in the accident he suffered two years ago, a lot of research and development were needed. The throttle has been mounted on the upper part of the steering wheel and is actuated by hand; the throttle controls the accelerator wire through a potentiometer. The gas pedal has been replaced by the brake pedal, which was especially shaped to prevent the drivers' artificial limb from losing the grip. The normal assisting systems for disabled drivers feature a hand-operated brake lever, but Zanardi is able to apply the needed pressure on the pedal by pushing with his gluteus and thigh muscles. The clutch pedal has been removed. The quick-shift device mounted on all the ETCC BMW cars, allow the drivers to shift up the gears without using the clutch, which is only used to start and shift down. The clutch on Zanardi's car is actuated through a button on the gear lever. "We saw that it would be possible to further improve the system in order to enhance driving performances. However, to get ready in time for Monza, we decided to settle with a configuration that is a good compromise and can also assure reliability," Zanardi commented.

Wednesday, during its meeting in Paris, the FIA Motor Sport World Council approved the suggestion that was submitted by the FIA Touring Car Commission, to exempt Alessandro Zanardi from carrying on board his car the 40 kg ballast required by art. 69 of the FIA ETCC Sporting Regulations for the drivers joining the Championship in any of the last three meetings of the season.


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About this article
Series General
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Alex Zanardi , Tony Kanaan , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing