Alessandro Zanardi, long time racer and BMW brand ambassador, was seriously injured in a handbike incident during a race in Italy on Friday, June 19. Press reports say that he veered out of the racing lane into open traffic and was hit by a truck. He underwent three hours of neurosurgery and maxillofacial surgery in a hospital in Siena, and was then placed in a medically induced coma.
Autosport.com quotes Dr. Giuseppe Olivieri, the head of neurosurgery at Siena’s Santa Maria alle Scotte hospital, as follows:
“The condition of Alex Zanardi is serious but stable. He arrived here with major facial cranial trauma, a smashed face, and a deeply fractured frontal bone [forehead]. The numbers are good, although it remains a very serious situation. We won’t see what his neurological state is until he wakes up—if he wakes up. Serious condition means it’s a situation when someone could die. Improvement takes time in these cases. Turns for the worse can be sudden. The operation went according to the plan. It’s the initial situation that was very serious.”
Zanardi’s condition was reported as stable on Sunday afternoon. Dr. Olivieri added, “The next step is to try and stabilize him over the next week or ten days. Then if things go well, he could eventually be woken up and re-evaluated.”
Zanardi, 53, who lost his legs in an Indy car incident in 2001, returned to the race track and also became a paralympic athlete, winning multiple handbike world championships as well as four Paralympic gold medals.
He has run in a number of races for BMW in cars specially equipped with hand controls. He ran with Team RLL at Daytona in 2019, and was recently announced as co-driver of an M6 GT3 in the finale of the Italian GT Championship at Monza in November.—Brian Morgan
[Photo courtesy BMW Motorsport.]