Munich (DE), 20th November 2014. For Alessandro Zanardi (IT) an eventful year is drawing to a close. 2014 marked his comeback season in motorsport after a break of four years: the BMW works driver competed in the Blancpain Sprint Series with his BMW Z4 GT3 entered by ROAL Motorsport. In para-cycling, the 48-year-old Italian celebrated further great successes, including two more world championship titles. In October, he completed his first ever long-distance triathlon in Hawaii (US) in a superb time. And, on top of that, Zanardi represented BMW as a BMW brand ambassador on many occasions all around the globe. In an interview, Zanardi looks back on this eventful year.
Alessandro, early this year you started your comeback-season with the roll-out in Adria in Italy. How did you feel when you drove the first metres with the BMW Z4 GT3, which were obviously your first metres back in motorsport?
Alessandro Zanardi: “I was very excited, as I always am when I start something new. After the long break I had after the 2009 season, it was a new adventure with a new car. I was back in a BMW, a brand that had already been very much part of my racing career. I was back with ROAL Motorsport, a team in which I have many friends and with which I have had many great moments in the past. All that combined made this moment a very special one. I was sitting in a BMW Z4 GT3, a great car that was new to me and certainly much more powerful than the one I drove before, so it was a great feeling to do the first laps.”
What did it mean to you to not only return to racing, but to return as a BMW works driver?
Zanardi: “To be appreciated as a sportsman and as an ambassador among all my partners at BMW makes me very proud. To see so much enthusiasm for my participation, to start again in a new championship, in a new adventure, to see myself again in the role of a race-car driver – this is what made it special. I have been connected with BMW for a long time – and the enthusiasm and support that I received when it was rumoured I could end up wearing the overalls of a race car driver again made me feel special. It made me feel a racing driver once again. That was a cool sensation.”
With the Blancpain Sprint Series, you returned to Brands Hatch, the place where you won your Paralympic gold and silver medals. In the race you shone with a great fight back and scored a strong fifth place. Was that one of the highlights of your racing season?
Zanardi: “Yes. In Brands Hatch all the conditions were perfect. In spite of the fact that, after a crash in the qualifying race, I started last in the main race, I was able to clinch a very encouraging fifth place finish. Had I started the race a little bit further up I think I could have actually improved on that. Another situation where I believe we could have had a great result was Slovakia, where a BMW ended up winning the race – actually BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert starting from 18th. In free practice and in qualifying, me and my team-mates at ROAL Motorsport had been the fastest BMWs, but unfortunately in the race we were involved in a first corner incident. But this is motorsport. So your only option is to say: I will have to try again.”
Apart from racing, you had several other important sporting events this year. In Greenville, you won another two world titles in para-cycling. It seems so easy for you – you just go there and win. Is it that easy?
Zanardi: “Absolutely not. It is pretty hard – in fact, this is why I am enjoying it so much. It is pure sporting, tough but sane competition among a group of hand-cyclists who are by now good friends. Ernst van Dyk, who is now my main rival, is a good friend of mine. He is a fair athlete and I enjoy hanging out and spending time with him a lot. But when it is time to race we are fighting for the same centimetre of road and, luckily for me in spite of my age, I can still perform to the level it takes to challenge others for the race win. And from that point of view it was a very successful season, though for it to be perfect I should have also won the gold medal in the road race. In that one I actually finished runner-up to Ernst van Dyk, but there will be another opportunity to try next year.”
In October, you successfully completed your first long-distance triathlon on Hawaii. Has triathlon become a new passion for you?
Zanardi: “No doubt. I was expecting to enjoy myself there. It has a lot in common with driving from last to the winner’s circle in Cleveland in 1997, or from a lap down to the winner’s circle in Long Beach in ‘98, or risking it all in Laguna Seca, where I was in second, was trying to get the big result and passed Brian Herta through the Corkscrew. There is a lot in common with that type of behaviour, which is the behaviour of a man who prefers to live a day like a lion rather than 100 days like a sheep. And wanting to do such an adventurous sporting day like participating in the Hawaii triathlon is the way I am. The best moment was when I came out of the water, stepped onto my handcycle and took Road 19 towards the North. I knew I had 175 kilometres in front of me, plus the marathon. At that point I could have been scared or intimidated by what I had in front of me. In fact, I just felt pure happiness. I was so happy at that point, because I knew that it would be a lot of fun to have it all in front of me and not behind me. Also the last 300 metres and the finish were amazing, because I was not prepared to be cheered the way I was. I was really struck by how much support I got, by the people shouting my name. It was fantastic on one side – but sad on the other, because it was over, it was the finish. So now if I want to live this type of adventure again, in the best case scenario, I have to wait one year.”
You are also BMW brand ambassador and represent BMW on many occasions all around the world. On these occasions, you often met your BMW ‘colleagues’, for example when you visited the BMW plant in Spartanburg in August. Do you feel like part of the family at such events?
Zanardi: “Not just this, it is much more than that. It is difficult to explain it in words, because nobody thinks about it anymore – and this is what I really mean. It is the fact that all the people look at me as Alex, as Alex Zanardi, BMW brand ambassador. And they are all very proud to have me as a brand ambassador. And this is the really fantastic thing, because there was a time when I was also Alex Zanardi, but then my accident had just happened and people did not know how to approach me. In their minds what had happened to me was a total disaster. And so it was inevitable that every time someone met me I could feel some sort of embarrassment in not knowing how to approach me. This is now completely gone. The people approach me in a completely normal way. In addition, it means something special for me to be BMW brand ambassador. A great and world-wide recognised company like BMW for sure does not strictly need to be represented by anyone. But it chose Alex Zanardi to represent its brand, and you can look at it anyway you want, but Alex Zanardi is a handicapped man. Just stop for a moment and think about this: a huge company like BMW decides to be represented by a handicapped man. This is something really special. Every time I meet BMW employees I can see that they are very happy to have me there and this is priceless. This is something that makes me feel very proud and comfortable in this family.”
Racing in the Blancpain Sprint Series, several para-cycling events, the triathlon and your commitments as BMW Brand Ambassador – how did you manage this very busy year?
Zanardi: “To do one thing at a time, that is all.”
At the end of the year, how would you sum up 2014 from a sporting point of view?
Zanardi: “For sure, everything can be improved, but I am pretty satisfied with the results. Together with BMW Motorsport and ROAL Motorsport, we showed some competitiveness and, without some bad luck, great results, including a race win, would have been on the cards. But this is life. Sometimes you may deserve something, but you did not get it. So all you can do is to try it again. And this a little bit the same with my story in para-cycling. It has been a great season, but I know that it is possible to improve. So next year it will be another opportunity for me to try again. I know the clock is ticking, I am 48-years-old and I can’t go on forever, but I am very excited that, in spite of my age, I am absolutely convinced that I can keep myself at the same high level both in para-cycling and in motorsport.”
Valencia (ES), 8th November 2014. Marc Marquez was unbeatable again in the 2014 MotoGP season – and the young Spaniard also won the race for the coveted BMW M Award again. The 21-year-old was the best qualifier in the premier class of motorcycle racing for the second year in a row to earn his second BMW M Award. This award, in the form of an exclusive and individually customised BMW M car, has been presented by MotoGP partner BMW M GmbH since 2003. Marquez’s outstanding performances in qualifying throughout 2014 were rewarded with an exclusive special edition of the new BMW M4 Coupe.
Marquez, who last year became the first rookie to win the BMW M Award, dominated the 2014 season from the word go. The Spaniard was also in a class of his own in qualifying, as he rocketed to his second World Championship title in MotoGP. Marquez secured pole position for the first six races of the season, picking up maximum points towards the BMW M Award in the process. In total, Marquez started from the very front of the grid on 13 occasions this year. With 398 points, the Spaniard won the 2014 BMW M Award by a comfortable margin. The official presentation ceremony took place on Saturday at the final round of the MotoGP in Valencia, Spain. The prize was presented by Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports, and Thomas Schemera, Director of Sales and Marketing BMW M GmbH.
The special features of the BMW M4 Coupé for this year’s BMW M Award winner includes the exclusive BMW Individual special colour “Frozen Red Metallic” (*). The sporty and elegant look continues in the interior. The BMW Individual fine-grain “Merino Opal White” full leather and the BMW Individual fine-wood “Ash Grain White” trim add to the striking appearance. The M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic, the M carbon ceramic brakes and the adaptive M running gear guarantee superior driving characteristics in any situation. The M Power under the bonnet is generated by a completely new, 431 bhp six-cylinder inline engine with M TwinPower Turbo technology and high-rev characteristics (combined fuel consumption: 8.3 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 194 g/km). A maximum torque of 550 newton metres is available over a wide range of speeds.
“Knowing the prize is there at the end of the year gives you special motivation when going for pole on Saturday”, said Marquez. “This year even more so, because I really like this BMW M4 Coupé. I am happy to receive this car and, of course, I will enjoy it.”
“The presentation of the BMW M Award at the final race is always a highlight of the MotoGP season,” said Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports. “BMW M is an important and reliable partner of MotoGP, and it is fantastic that the performances of the top qualifier have now been honoured with such an exclusive, high-performance sports car for the 12th time. In the BMW M4 Coupé, BMW M GmbH has once again provided a captivating car for the winner, which features the latest technology and perfectly combines the values shared by MotoGP and BMW M. Marc Marquez won the 2014 BMW M Award in an impressive manner. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate him on another outstanding season.”
“Congratulations to Marc Marquez on winning the BMW M Award again,” said Thomas Schemera, Director of Sales and Marketing BMW M GmbH. “Last year he came through as a rookie to defeat his more experienced opponents. In 2014 he raised the bar again with 13 pole positions. It was breath-taking to see how Marc went from one success to the next this year. As partner of MotoGP, we are delighted to once again recognise his achievements with the BMW M Award. Honouring the season’s top qualifier has become an important tradition for us, and we are proud that the BMW M Award is held in such high esteem by the MotoGP riders. They repeatedly confirm that our BMW M high-performance sports cars are much sought-after prizes – and we provided another highlight this year with the new BMW M4 Coupé.”
The BMW M Award for the best qualifier has been presented since 2003. Just like the points system for the races, riders at each Grand Prix weekend are awarded points relative to their positions in qualifying. Pole position is rewarded with 25 points, second place on the grid earns 20 points and third place scores
16 points – right down to one point for 15th. The rider with the most points at the end of the season wins the BMW M Award – in the form of an exclusive and individually customised BMW M car. Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner are the current record holders, each with three BMW M Awards to their name. In 2013, Marc Marquez was crowned the youngest ever winner of the BMW M Award, and the first rider to receive this award in his first season at the pinnacle of motorcycle racing. Marquez has now won the BMW M Award for the second time. His compatriot Jorge Lorenzo has also earned the coveted title of top qualifier twice so far. Sete Gibernau and Nicky Hayden have both won the BMW M Award once.
(*) BMW Individual special colour “Frozen Red Metallic” available for BMW M3 Limousine and BMW M4 Coupé from 2015.
Munich. It was a rare sight on the BMW Welt “Premiere”: On this platform, where customers from all over the globe usually collect their new model vehicles, a 1979 BMW M1 Procar was presented to its owner on Thursday. The unique car had been restored over the years by the BMW Group Classic customer shop and BMW M GmbH, and is now virtually as good as new.
Proud owner of the historic race car is Masakuni Hosobuchi of Japan. The entrepreneur is President of the BMW Club Japan and an avid collector of BMW M vehicles. “BMWs are my great passion, and the Procar definitely will get a place of honor in my collection. It was very important to me to restore the car to its former glory after so many years of racing. And who could have done a better job than the manufacturers themselves? It also gives me great pleasure to pick up this classic car right here at BMW Welt, amidst all the new vehicles,” said Masakuni Hosobuchi. He had an opportunity to test the working condition of the car on site. With an inimitable sound, he started the sports car’s mid-engine and then drove several victory laps on the “Premiere” platform to the applause of numerous visitors.
Classic BMWs restored by BMW Classic can be presented to their owners in the unique atmosphere of the BMW Welt in the future as well. A “pick-up” of this kind is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for owners, but also a chance to demonstrate the successful symbiosis of past and present within the BMW Group.
The BMW M1 Procar series
In 1979 and 1980, a racing series preceding the Formula One events was held specifically for the BMW M1. The fastest Formula One pilots of the day, such as Niki Lauda and Nelson Piquet, appeared here in a thrilling duel against private drivers. A total of only 54 Procars were built, each with its own, individual style. The BMW M1 Procar belonging to Masakuni Hosobuchi, entitled “Yes to the Nürburgring,” is painted with images of the famous race track, symbolizing BMW’s strong connection to the old Nürburgring. Nelson Piquet and Hans-Joachim Stuck drove this car to the class win and third overall in the 1,000-km race at the Nordschleife in 1980.
Vehicle collection at BMW Welt
Some customers travel thousands of miles from around the world to fulfil their dream of picking up their new BMW at BMW Welt. Its architecture was designed specifically to make a customer’s first encounter with his or her vehicle a real experience. Between 80 and 120 people – even up to 160 in peak periods – collect their new cars at BMW Welt every day. Vehicle pick-ups have been on the rise since the facility opened in 2007. Over 21,000 customers picked up their new cars at BMW Welt in 2013. For some 2,000 customers, the experience was even worth a trip from the USA.
BMW Welt – at the heart of the brand, on the pulse of the city
With around 2.9 million visitors in 2013, BMW Welt in Munich is Bavaria’s most popular attraction and has become a real magnet for visitors since its opening in 2007. With its pioneering architecture, BMW Welt is the heart of all the brands in the BMW Group – BMW, the sub-brands BMW M and BMW i, MINI, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and BMW Motorrad, which are impressively presented in their own worlds of experience. But it is not only the exhibitions and the collection of new vehicles that are highlights for car lovers from all over the world. Visitors can enjoy a year-round programme of varied events covering culture, art and entertainment along with culinary delights in several restaurants. Whether it’s a jazz concert, clubbing event, a film première, gala event or panel discussion – BMW Welt is the perfect platform for innovative events. In the BMW Welt Junior Campus, children and youngsters can enjoy exciting guided tours and workshops on the themes of mobility and sustainability.
BMW Museum – Hands-on history
Visitors of all ages can explore the past, present and future of the BMW brand at BMW Welt, the BMW Museum and the BMW plant. The BMW Museum plays an important role in this. Since re-opening in 2008, it has been successfully presenting the history of BMW and offering a glimpse of the future. The museum also explores the theme of mobility for the benefit of younger visitors. The Junior Museum organizes a special program for children and young people, basing its educational concept on learning through play. The museum also has a history of its own: it is one of the oldest automobile museums in Germany, was built in 1973 and declared a historic monument in 1999.
Time to liven the walls up a little bit… I searched around a bit and found a company that makes removable vinyl graphics, stripes, letters, etc. for walls. I ordered their 50 color sample pack, and matched my car’s M badge stripes as best I could, with great results. I then ordered three, 3″ wide by 36′ long rolls of their removable stripes.
The hardest part of the process was deciding which wall to lay them out on, and at what height. The installation was extremely easy, but does require some planning.
Since I installed the stripes fairly high on the walls (I have a 14′ ceiling in the garage) I had to make sure that I could reach the stripe the entire way across the wall in a continuous manner. My girlfriend was kind enough to help me re-position my workbench and ladder as I worked my way down the wall.
Using the laser level made things very easy. I set the laser up, then using a pencil I made marks down the laser line to guide the initial vinyl stripe. After the first stripe was laid out, the second and third were painless.
Overall I’m very pleased with the end result. The wall looks significantly faster…
From their site:
Easy Stripe is self-adhesive striping used to decorate walls, doors, bikes, laptops, autos & more. It sticks easily and removes clean. Each roll is 36 ft (11m) long with multiple widths and colors available, so you can achieve any design or pattern. Easier, faster, and more affordable than painting stripes, this is the answer you’ve been looking for. No more mess or harsh fumes. We stand behind our product & 100% guarantee you’ll love it. Unroll your creativity.
Baku (AZ), 2nd November 2014. Everything was set for BMW works driver Alessandro Zanardi (IT) to end the 2014 Blancpain Sprint Series on a high. At the season finale in Baku (AZ) both the qualifying race and the main race were held today, Sunday. Zanardi’s BMW Z4 GT3 was handling well on the narrow street circuit and the Italian had a clever race strategy. But lady luck was not on his side, as his race day came to an early end when another competitor put him into the wall halfway through the qualifying race.
Zanardi started the qualifying race from 13th on the grid. His plan was to avoid any trouble, to move up in the order and to secure a good grid position for the main race where he aimed for a strong result. All went according to plan for the first 30 minutes. The opening lap saw several collisions, which caused a long safety car period, but Zanardi came safely through all the turmoil. He improved to 11th and kept moving forward, but after around 30 minutes his race was all of a sudden over. His BMW Z4 GT3 was hit heavily from behind and pushed into the wall. In the impact the car suffered severe damage at the front. When the ROAL Motorsport team, which enters Zanardi’s BMW Z4 GT3, inspected the damage, it had to accept that it could not be repaired in time for the main race.
“I was driving a very good race, the car felt very good and I knew sitting in a BMW would give me an advantage towards the end of the race,” Zanardi reported. “So I was just trying to take care of my equipment and keep the right distance between myself and the car in front in order to keep my tyres and brakes in good condition. I could see that other people in front where experiencing grip or brake problems, which I was not having. So I was waiting for them to lose a little bit of performance and then would have started to try to attack and move forward.”
“Then the car in front of me had a problem and I just needed to pass that guy,” he continued. “When I was basically alongside him going into the corner, the driver behind me misjudged his braking point, hit me quite violently, sent me into the wall and that was it. It is a pity. My BMW Z4 GT3 was working perfectly today and it is a pretty sad reward for all my boys from ROAL Motorsport and BMW who worked so hard all weekend. I think we could have gone home much happier had we just finished the race with no misfortunes.”
Both the qualifying and the main races were won by Cesar Ramos (BR) and Laurens Vanthoor (BE). The best placed BMW car was the BMW Z4 GT3 of BMW Sports Trophy Team Brasil, driven by Ricardo and Rodrigo Sperafico (both BR), who finished tenth and ninth respectively.
Baku (AZ), 1st November 2014. BMW works driver Alessandro Zanardi (IT) had a strong start to the final round of the 2014 Blancpain Sprint Series. The season finale, the “Baku World Challenge”, is being held on the streets of Baku (AZ) on the shores of the Caspian Sea this weekend. Today, Saturday, saw two free practice sessions in the morning and the qualifying practice in the afternoon.
On the tight street circuit in the south part of the city Zanardi was fast from the word ‘go’. In the first free practice he set the fastest lap time with his BMW Z4 GT3 entered by ROAL Motorsport. In the late morning, it started to rain but this did not prevent Zanardi again setting a fast time in the second free practice and finishing second.
The weather improved again in time for the qualifying practice in the late afternoon. The mixed conditions on the street circuit proved to be more than tricky. The session had to be red-flagged three times after cars crashed into the barriers. Zanardi, nevertheless, comfortably progressed to Q3. At the beginning of this third and final part of the qualifying he lost a few tenths, but then his times improved again. In the final minute Zanardi was again on the way to set a fast time, which would have secured him a good grid position. But he had no luck, as a car in front of him spun, yellow flags were brought out and he had to interrupt his final attempt. In the end he qualified 14th for the qualifying race, which will be held tomorrow morning. The main race will start in the afternoon.
“It is the way it is, you can’t change it now,” Zanardi summed up. “I had a small problem braking with my prosthetic leg, had understeer and lost a few tenths. Then I changed the brake balance and that helped. In the first sector I had improved by three or four tenths. I also had a good feeling in the second sector. I did a couple of corners, probably improving – but then I came to the section with the yellow flags so that was it. Anyway, I am confident for tomorrow. I have a very good car underneath me and I am starting on the outside, which helps to avoid any trouble in turn 1. This is the key: to come safely through the first corner. If I manage to do that, I will try my best to get a good result.”
The highest placed BMW car in the qualifying practice was the BMW Z4 GT3 of BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert driven by BMW works driver Jens Klingmann (DE) and Dominik Baumann (AT), who finished sixth. Tomorrow’s qualifying race will start at 09:15 local time, the main race will get the green lights at 13:55.