Alessandro Zanardi made a fine debut in DTM in tricky conditions at Misano last weekend, fulfilling the trust laid on him by BMW.

The 51-year-old earned a guest run in DTM’s Misano round to drive the #12 BMW M4 with Team RMR alongside Timo Glock and Philipp Eng. The Italian underwent a test to get himself used to the car developed for his driving style.

In fact, this was the first race where he drove without the amputated legs to increase his performance and it worked well for the Paralympic gold medalist. He was 13th in Race 1 on Saturday after qualifying 19th for the race.

On Sunday though, he was delighted to finish fifth in the race having also started in 19th – thanks to the clever strategy in mixed conditions. As a guest driver he did not score points but secured a monumental result vindicating the trust shown on him by BMW.

“Fifth place is the payoff for the whole weekend,” said Zanardi. “I am very happy with this result and at my age, I won’t get too many more opportunities to celebrate racing successes like this.

“I had a very good racing speed and wasn’t sure what to do when slower drivers kept appearing in front of me. Seriously, I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity by BMW Motorsport. They always believed that I could do it.

“This trust is a great gift – and I am happy that I was able to vindicate that. Many thanks to the DTM family too, for welcoming me with open arms. I will always have a place in my heart for this weekend.

“It has taken me 51 years to experience it – but at least I got that chance.” The Sunday’s race was won by BMW’s novice Joel Eriksson with Zanardi ending up as the second-best BMW in fifth.

BMW’s Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt added: “For Alex Zanardi, a 51-year-old, to finish the same race in fifth is just incredible. He did a great job throughout the whole weekend.”