Image credit: BMW Motorsport.
The driver line-up has been announced for a very special motorsport project: BMW works driver Alessandro Zanardi will contest the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps alongside BMW DTM drivers Timo Glock and Bruno Spengler.
The 67th running of the marathon at the “Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps” will take place on 25th/26th July 2015. Zanardi, Glock and Spengler will share the cockpit of a specially modified BMW Z4 GT3. All three drivers have been permanent fixtures in international motorsport for many years and have celebrated huge success in various race series. Spa-Francorchamps will mark the first time that the trio takes on the challenges of a 24-hour race together. The car will be run by the ROAL Motorsport team, with which Zanardi made his highly acclaimed return to racing back in 2003.
The BMW Motorsport engineers are developing new technical solutions for this unique project. For the first time, BMW Brand Ambassador Zanardi, who lost both his legs in a crash in 2001, will swap places at the wheel of the BMW Z4 GT3 with fully-abled drivers. Various modifications to the car make it possible to complete the driver changeovers between Zanardi, Glock and Spengler within the shortest time possible. The engineers at BMW Motorsport are also working together with the drivers to ensure the steering wheel, seat and pedals are perfectly positioned.
“At BMW Motorsport we usually avoid using superlatives, but this project in this form is unique and very special to us,” said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “We were able to turn a few wishes into reality. Alex’s dream of competing in a 24-hour race will come true. And Timo and Bruno have also been waiting to compete in a classic such as the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. The fact that they get to do this alongside Alex as part of this unique project is a real highlight for both of them. All three of them have a wealth of experience in many different areas. It will be really exciting to see them together in the BMW Z4 GT3. Our BMW Motorsport engineers are also fascinated by this unusual project. They are really enthusiastic about working with the drivers to find the optimal technical solutions. We are confident that we will have a great 24-hour race with this unique trio of drivers and our BMW Z4 GT3.”
“Timo and Bruno are two fantastic people, great guys and outstanding racing drivers,” said Zanardi. “I think we will form a really strong team. Everyone in the BMW Motorsport family has a very close relationship. However, one thing really touched me: when we started planning for the 24-hour race, everyone was hooked immediately. That makes me very proud, since they are all real racers who want to be successful. That showed me that they all believe in me and trust me to be competitive enough. They not only see it as an adventure to drive with me at this endurance race, but also believe they have a good chance of getting a good result for BMW. That is definitely what we will be aiming for.”
“When BMW asked me whether I would be willing to get involved in this project, I did not hesitate for a second,” said Glock. “Alex had already told me in the winter that he really wanted to do a 24-hour race at some point. Back then I told him I would definitely be on board if he and BMW were to embark such a fantastic venture. And now that opportunity has actually presented itself. It is an incredibly exciting project. It requires a completely different approach to usual. It is also a very emotional project for me as I have always followed Alex Zanardi ever since his time in Formula One and ChampCar. It is fantastic to share a car with him now.”
“I am really looking forward to the 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps,” said Spengler. “I drove the 24 Hours of Daytona in January and really enjoyed it. But the fact that BMW is now giving me the opportunity to race alongside Alex in a BMW Z4 GT3 is amazing. It really is an honour for me to be part of this team. This project will be a great experience for me, and I am very motivated. Alex, Timo and I are a good team and I can hardly wait to compete together.”
In preparation for the endurance classic, Zanardi, Glock and Spengler will race in the Blancpain Endurance Series at the “Circuit Paul Ricard” in Le Castellet (FR) on 19th and 20th June. The three BMW works drivers will then take part in the official test for the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on 24th June.