After contesting the fourth round of the 2014 Blancpain Sprint Series at Slovakia Ring (SK) in his BMW Z4 GT3, BMW works driver and brand ambassador Alessandro Zanardi (IT) is now heading to the US. There he will tackle his title defence mission: the 47-year-old Italian will compete in the UCI Para-Cycling World Championship at Greenville, South Carolina next weekend (28th August to 1st September).
After winning the Para-Cycling World Cup in July, the world championship marks the next important event in Zanardi’s 2014 handcycle season. He will arrive at Greenville as the reigning world champion in the time trials as well as the road race in the MH5 (men’s handcycle) category. The world championship is organised by the world cycling federation UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale). The time trial in the MH5 category will be held on Saturday, while the road race is scheduled for Monday. In addition, Zanardi will compete in the team relay with the Italian national team this Thursday, which will take place on a very special course: in the BMW Performance Center, the test facilities of the BMW plant Spartanburg near Greenville.
The day before, Wednesday, Zanardi will take the opportunity to visit the BMW plant Spartanburg. The plant began producing BMW automobiles for the world market 20 years ago in 1994. Today, several BMW X models are manufactured there to be exported to more than 140 markets around the world. In 2013, over 7,000 employees manufactured almost 300,000 vehicles. Zanardi will meet the staff and give first-hand insights into his racing-season with his BMW Z4 GT3 and his several activities as a para-athlete.
“Of course it would be better to win than to finish second or third,” Zanardi said about his targets for Greenville. “But in every sport you have to accept the idea that you are not competing alone and that you cannot always be first, but this is what makes it so exciting. Until you cross the finish line you don’t know if the homework you have done was enough to be better than your opponents. I think I prepared very well.
My trainer Francesco Chiappero helped me tremendously to understand where I was weak and I think I am a much better athlete than I was 40 days ago. If the others have done the same, I don’t know, but I am very anxious to find out. The fact that we will competing in the city where the BMW plant Spartanburg is based is a fantastic coincidence and I am very excited about meeting all the employees. I am sure I will have a lot of support in the team relay which takes place in their testing facility, and then later in the time trial and the road race because they will have be looking out for me. Probably I will get cheered as much as I would in my own country, in Italy. This will certainly give me an extra boost.”