Italian racing driver Alex Zanardi emerged victorious in the final race of the 2016 Italian GT Championship on his debut weekend at Mugello on Sunday with the new BMW M6 GT3. He had recently claimed two gold medals and one silver in handcycling.
Zanardi had been absent from motorsport since the 2015 Spa 24 Hours. Because he was focused on his preparations for the Rio Paralympics.
The former F1 driver rejoined his former Blancpain GT and World Touring Car Championship Team ROAL Motorsport for the Italian championship. He started Sunday's race from second on the grid after a strong qualifying.
In Saturday's opening race, Zanardi finished sixth. On Sunday, he dropped to third place during the opening lap, but he took the lead during the pitstops. After that he had the speed to open up his lead and secured the top spot.
Zanardi said, "There are no words to describe what I feel. Today I saw the sun setting and it never looked that beautiful. What a year, not only what a day. Once more I enjoyed beautiful moments in Rio de Janeiro, and now just jumping into this beautiful car was amazing.
He added, "I want to thank all the guys in Munich, who did an amazing effort in getting this beautiful BMW M6 GT3 ready for me with everything I needed, thanks to BMW Italia and to ROAL Motorsport for setting the car up and making it ready for me in a magnificent way."
Back in 2001, Zanardi had a horrific accident resulted in both his legs being amputated. Since then, he has raced with BMW on and off since his return to motorsport.