September 14, 2016
Alex Zanardi defends his gold medal onboard a Dallara
In an age when athletes and personalities are so often controversial, Alex Zanardi stand above as one that is truly inspirational.
The 49 year old Italian successfully defended his 2012 London time trial gold medal today at the Rio Paralympics. Zanardi came from behind with an exciting last lap push, the power of his "engine" transmitted to the ground via a super sleek and futuristic hand bike designed by Italian race car shop Dallara.
"Dallara produced the chassis of a handbike in its Varano headquarters. The design process was similar to that of a racecar. Bologna athlete Alessandro Zanardi raced with this bike, winning three medals for time and road trials (two gold and one silver) in the London 2012 Paralympics.
Once Zanardi’s body surface and that of his bike had been scanned, an in-depth study of the CFD aerodynamics (Computational Fluid Dynamics) took place in order to fine-tune the shape of the handbike. Once the shape was defined, Dallara completed the FEM structural analysis (Finite Element Methods) and then carried out laboratory tests.
During the design process, Dallara built a mannequin to assess the comfort and the driving position. Finally, the first prototype was designed and created. All of this was completed within the limits of technical regulations that imposed dimensional and functional constraints, similar to racecar regulations.
These efforts cumulated in an ad hoc prototype for Alex. Different configurations are available to disabled athletes who request them."
Zanardi, 1997 and 1998 Indycar champion before his 2001 career ending accident at the Lausitzring, thanked Gianpaolo Dallara.
"Dallara does not get enough credit in Italy, it took more work to develop my bike than Indy cars."
But beyond technology and sport, Zanardi remains an inspiration.
"It's not about strength, anyone can find strength. Ambition will make you push but sooner or later you will tire. Passion, not ambition, is the key to success, being a good person is the goal.
I would like to thank my sponsors for allowing an old man like me to compete and I would like to point out that we too are tempted by doping but the vast majority stay clean.
If you dope you are the first to lose"
(H/t Marco Belloro)