Zanardi denied points by clutch problems
22 April 2014 – Alex Zanardi was philosophical after clutch problems cost him points during the opening round of the 2014 Blancpain Sprint Series at Nogaro in France.
The works BMW driver, who's last car race was in 2009, put in a strong performance in his ROAL Motorsport-run BMW Z4 GT3, but missed out on a top-ten in both the main race and the qualifying race when he had an issue with the special clutch mechanism that has been developed for him.
"I am taking a very philosophical view, because racing is racing and something like this can happen. But to lose points today when we could have scored some is a pity, because it was my debut and to come home with championship points would have been great," said the 47-year-old, who of course lost both of his legs back in 2001 in that horrific Champ Car accident at the Lausitzring.
"In my heart, however, I know we had a strong finish to the weekend, which did not start very well. In the race our BMW Z4 GT3 was probably better than many other cars, so this gives me hope for the next races," he added.
"Unfortunately we had this problem, which has nothing to do with BMW, but it was the clutch which we installed for me," he continued. "It compromised my [main] race even in the first half. After the pit stop, I managed to somehow start without the clutch, but then the car became very difficult to drive and basically I was driving the whole third sector in fourth gear to avoid problems. At the hairpin I tried to shift down but nothing was happening, then all of a sudden the gears were there. But what can you do, this is racing. Now I am looking forward to the next round."
Roberto Ravaglia, Team Principal of ROAL Motorsport, added: "I'm very satisfied with Alex's performance. He could have been in the top ten, but unfortunately he had some issues with the special clutch. Without that he could have scored the first championship points in the first race of the series. Now we are going to analyse the data to clearly understand what happened. His best lap time was quite good, as he was the eighth fastest driver on track. This shows how competitive Alex can be.
"Now we need to work in order to improve in qualifying and to let him start from a better position than this weekend's 14th. I'm confident and I'm looking forward to the next race."
The second round in the 2014 Blancpain Sprint Series takes place at Brands Hatch in the UK next month, running from May 16-18.