Page 12 - Dallara Magazine

It all started almost by chance, the result of a
visit, and a coffee. Engineer Dialma Zinelli,
who is in charge of aerodynamics at Dallara,
and the hand bike project, explains:
Last autumn, Alex came to see us, together with
the ex-driver and teamowner Chip Ganassi, and
he mentioned his intention of participating in
the Paralympics for the first time. It was at this
point that we had an idea: why don’t you come
back with your bike a let us see if we can
improve it? No sooner said than done: in
December Alex came back, together with his
bike and Vittorio Podestà
time Italian hand
bike champion)
and that was when the
collaboration began”.
What were the first steps?
We started off by looking at simple
modifications designed to improve the
performance; then I thought to myself: why
don’t we try a little numerical aerodynamics?
So we digitalised Zanardi and his bike, starting
from a cloud of irregular points, until we had
created a coherent surface that could be
codified using the CFD software”.
The results?
Excellent. Using the CFD we were able to
identify the areas for improvement and, after a
series of tests, the bike began to assume a form
that was noticeably different to the original
model, in fact, at a certain point it became
apparent both to us and to Alex that the best
option would be to redesign the frame from
Just like a racing car?
Exactly. We used the same phases andmethods,
in accordance with a set of technical regulations
that established the dimensional and functional
limits that should be adopted to a system with
themechanical parts exposed. After a significant
amount of work with the CFD, we moved on to
the FEM (Finite Element Methods) structural
analysis stage, before starting laboratory testing.
At the same time, we built amannequin in order
to evaluate the riding position, after which we
designedandbuilt the first prototype, whichwas
ready in July”.
How did it go?
Alex immediately noticed the difference in
terms of rigidity, riding accuracy, and
smoothness with respect to his old bike. In order
to decrease the weight, we built a second
prototype that we delivered on the 1st August,
and which became the bike that he used in
What was the most difficult part of the
It was defining the correct riding position, with
the correct height and a comfortable shell, in the
short time we had at our disposal, in order to
enable Alex to transfer the maximum amount of
power during each stroke. Our job was made
much easier by Alex, whose driver’s sensitivity
enabled him to give us precise feedback about
each modification”.
And how was the experience for you?
Fantastic, emotionally intense, above all thanks
to Alex who is disarmingly uncomplicated and
approachable: whenever he came to the factory
he would always find the time to say hello to
everyone, and the people at Dallara responded
to that: the team was very highly motivated”.
An anecdote or two?
Roberto Ciura, who supervised the assembly
stage, was in charge of Zanardi’s car when he
was competing in F3: destiny I suppose. Alex
would joke: I breakmy toys, and Roby fixes them
for me”.
The result of this challenging job was a unique
prototype made to measure for Alex, almost
like Cinderella’s slipper; however, both Dallara
and Alex felt that, in the future, it might be
possible to use the same design principles to
create a version suitable for anyone, including
able-bodied people, who might be interested
in taking up a new and exciting open-air
activity. In fact, Engineer Dialma Zinelli
volunteered to act as the “guinea pig” for a
hypothetical prototype.
Andrea Pontremoli,
the MD of
Dallara, had this to say about the
Alex managed to get the whole
company involved in his dream, and we are all
so proud of the success achieved by this truly
exceptional man. It also helped to promote the
image of Italy as a country where things work”
Gian Paolo Dallara
unique person, who enriches everyone who is
fortunate enough to meet him
Following his achievements,
had a
heartfelt message for the teamat Dallara:
can only show people your appreciation if you
believe they deserve it; however, when you also
have the friendship of people like Engineer
Dallara, Engineer Pontremoli and somany other
people who work at Varano, you feel almost
obliged to do something really special together
with them.
When I was a "youngster” I drove a Dallara in a
Formula 3 Championship, where the only way
you could expect to be competitive was in a
single-seater designed and built in Varano; it
was almost like driving in a single-brand
I had to invent this new, exciting sporting
adventure so that my Friends could experience,
alongside me, the emotions that only the most
demanding of competitions can offer, and so
that, when it was all over, I could say with a
sense of pride that every single one of them had
contributed to my little achievement.
Dialma, Francesco, Giacomo, Andrea, not to
forget Roberto, Carlo, Nicola, Fabrizio, Leonardo
as well as everyone else who helped to design,
or “tighten the nuts” on this fantastic vehicle:
they were all there with me during the races at
Brands Hatch and they all merit a share in one
of the greatest joys of my sporting career.
At the risk of sounding sentimental, and until
we all have time to raise a glass together (which
will be refilledmore than once!) my dear friends,
I thank you!"