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Alessandro Zanardi Rio 2016

Racing driver Zanardi wins third Paralympic gold

Alessandro Zanardi Rio 2016Italian racing driver Alessandro Zanardi has won his third Paralympic gold medal in the 2016 Rio Games with victory in the handcycling time trial.

He led silver medallist Stuart Tripp by almost three seconds, with bronze going to Oscar Sanchez.

Zanardi’s latest triumph follows up the two golds and one silver he won in the 2012 London Olympics; the former F1 driver could yet scoop another medal too, as he’s to race today (Thursday 15 September) in the Rio road race and on Friday with the Italian national team as part of the relay.

49 year old Zanardi first raced in Formula One in 1991, moving to the U.S. CART series in 2005. He won the series in 1997 and 1998, before moving back to F1 with Williams in 1999.

Zanardi returned to CART again in 2000 but suffered a horrific crash at the 2001 Lausitzring round in Germany on September 15: he lost both legs and nearly three quarters of his blood, and only swift medical attention saved his life.

The Italian racer has since returned to the cockpit in touring cars and GT cars, and has scored several wins in the World Touring Car Championship. He also took up hand cycling and first competed at the 2007 New York City Marathon, finishing fourth.

Zanardi joined the Italian national team for the London 2012 Paralympics and won his first gold on September 5 that year; he now hopes to add to his tally with further medals in the 2016 Rio Games.

Alessandro Zanardi Rio 2016

“It has been a long journey, which basically started the day after the London games, when I decided that I would focus on a new horizon in my life and that this would be Rio,” Zanardi said.

“I am very, very happy. I am very grateful to all the people who helped me to be here and to enjoy this great achievement today.”

Jason Kenny - Radical racer

Olympic hero Jason Kenny to race Radical at Brands Hatch

Jason Kenny - Radical racerJason Kenny was Team GB’s most successful athlete at the 2016 Rio Olympics – and, now he’s back in the UK, the three-time gold medal-winning cyclist is looking to continue his competitive form…

… By racing a Radical at Brands Hatch this coming Bank Holiday weekend!

The track cyclist will drive a Radical SR3 RSX in the Radical Challenge, aiming to continue a successful streak on four wheels: in his last motor race, back in 2014, he finished on the podium at the challenging Nürburgring circuit in the Radical European Masters.

Jason Kenny - Radical racer

Racing took a back seat since then as Kenny prepared for the Olympics – rather successfully too, it seems – but now he’s back from Rio, he’s keen to get back behind the wheel.

Kenny is now tied with Sir Chris Hoy as Britain’s most successful Olympian: both hold six gold medals and one silver. Sir Chris is one step ahead of Kenny on four wheels though – after starting off racing Radicals, he’s since gone on to race at Le Mans.

Following the Brands event this weekend, Kenny and Sir Chris will actually be team-mates in a Radical Spyder during a race later this year at Jerez… so what are the sporting odds on Kenny getting some top tips and eventually following him to the Le Mans 24 Hours?

Nissan BladeGlider

The BladeGlider is the ‘electric vehicle for car-lovers’

Nissan BladeGliderThe BladeGlider is Nissan’s vision of an electric future with a name that sounds like it’s ready to do battle in the new series of Robot Wars. It’s being unveiled in Rio de Janeiro, which just happens to be hosting a major sporting tournament, of which Nissan is a key sponsor. We cut to the chase to bring you more on the Nissan BladeGlider.

A working prototypeNissan BladeGlider

If the BladeGlider looks familiar, it’s because it’s based on the concept cars first shown at the 2013 Tokyo Auto Show. This new 2016 version looks a whole lot closer to production reality, although for the time being Nissan is keen to stress it’s a “working prototype”.

An electric vehicle for car-loversNissan BladeGlider

Note the narrow front leading to a wider rear track, which is said to improve aerodynamics and handling stability. According to Nissan supremo, Carlos Ghosn, the BladeGlider is an “electric vehicle for car-lovers”, which could be dismissed as a throwaway statement. That is until you take a look at the key specifications…

A massive 521 lb ft of torqueNissan BladeGlider

How does a top speed of 115 mph and a 0-62 mph time of sub five seconds grab you? And because the BladeGlider is 100% electric, the entire 268 hp and 521 lb ft of torque is available from the moment you hit the ‘go’ pedal. Well you can’t call it the ‘gas’ pedal. Or the ‘loud’ pedal, for that matter.

With a little help from WilliamsNissan BladeGlider

The rear wheels are powered by two electric motors – one for each wheel – with British-based Williams Advanced Engineering lending a hand with the development of the powertrain. The motors are fed by a five-module lithium-ion 220 kW battery, with a bespoke cooling system developed to, well, keep things cool.

Drift mode, yoNissan BladeGlider

That things about ‘car-lovers’ – the BladeGlider features a drift mode. Yes, you heard that right: somebody has taken a look at the Ford Focus RS and thought, anything you can do, we can do silently. Aside from the tyre screeches. And the inevitable screams from your two passengers.

An electric McLaren F1?Nissan BladeGlider

Oh yes, about that. Nissan has taken a look at another car with performance pedigree to design a three-seat cockpit. Bringing to mind images of the McLaren F1, the driver sits at the front of the BladeGlider, with each passenger sat behind in an off-set position, well placed to enjoy that drift mode.

Torque vectoringNissan BladeGlider

The drift mode is part of a torque vectoring system, which automatically sends more torque to the outside wheel to correct any brown-trouser moments. There are three settings: Off, Agile and Drift. Last time we checked, drift mode wasn’t available on the Nissan Leaf.

Look-at-me doorsNissan BladeGlider

Once you’ve climbed aboard, having opened those ‘look at me’ rear-hinged dihedral doors, you’ll look up to discover an open roof with integrated roll-over protection, designed to provide “the exhilaration of an open-topped race car with the safety of a coupe”.

Doors mirrors removed to improve aerodynamicsNissan BladeGlider

The seats themselves feature four-point safety harnesses, while the central display is flanked by a pair of screens, showing the view from the rear-view cameras mounted just behind the front wheels. Because door mirrors are like so last century.

Fabric and epoxy resinNissan BladeGlider

To make sure your bottom stays in place when hurtling toward the horizon, or indeed doing a great impression of an electric RS, the seats are trimmed in a blend of fabric and epoxy resin, resulting in a tough and grippy surface. The more you look at the BladeGlider, the closer it looks to reality.

Cyber Green and Stealth OrangeNissan BladeGlider

There are two colours available – Cyber Green and Stealth Orange, and we’d like to say you can place an order at your local Nissan dealer. But you can’t, not now at least.

A zero-emission futureNissan BladeGlider

According to Carlos Ghosn, “These prototypes epitomise Nissan’s drive to expand its intelligent mobility philosophy, where driving pleasure combines with environmental responsibility. Nissan believes that enthusiasts should look forward to a zero-emission future.” We’ll all raise a glass of water to that.

Two BladeGliders in RioNissan BladeGlider

Two BladeGliders will be on display in Rio de Janeiro, one of which will be offering dynamic rides to media and VIPs. Can we look forward to the sight of Gabby Logan drifting in a BladeGlider, with Dan Walker and Hazel Irvine sat in the back? Here’s hoping.

Badger your local dealerNissan BladeGlider

If you like the look of the car that has the appearance of something an eco-conscious Pink Panther would drive, start badgering your Nissan dealer. Or tweet one of the Olympic athletes and ask them to take a test drive for you. On your marks…

Gold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

Gold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

Gold metal: the cars of the Olympic GamesTo celebrate the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, we take a look back at 60 years of official cars and Olympic specials. And we promise not to mention Duran Duran, while avoiding any half-baked references to driving in the sand. On your marques…

We start with the Summer Games, before switching to the cars of the Winter Games.

Rio 2016: NissanGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

Nissan is supplying 4,200 vehicles to ‘meet the day-to-day mobility’ of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Among the vehicles will be more than 200 of the Nissan Kicks crossover – the official vehicle of the Games. There’s no word on whether or not the Kicks will be sold in the UK.

Rio 2016: NissanGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

Alongside the Kick, Nissan will also supply a fleet including the March (Micra), Versa, Sentra, Altima and Frontier. Francois Dossa, president of Nissan Brazil, said: “The fleet delivery is an important moment for us because this directly involves our vehicles, most of which were produced in Brazil”.

Rio 2016: Nissan Golf LeafGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

Meanwhile, back in Blighty, Sir Chris Hoy unveiled a gold Nissan Leaf at the Lee Valley Velopark in Stratford. All Nissan-sponsored athletes who win a gold medal at the Rio Games will also win a special gold-wrapped Leaf to mark their achievement. Ambassadors include Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Max Whitlock, David Weir CBE and Richard Whitehead MBE.

London 2012: BMWGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

In 2012, James Bond and the Queen jumped from a helicopter, Great Britain won a few gold medals and London hosted the 2012 Olympic Games. As the main automotive sponsor, BMW supplied a fleet of more than 4,000 vehicles, 1,550 of which were 320d saloons.

London 2012: BMWGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

BMW supplied 10 X5s for towing duties, 700 5 Series for transfer duties, MINI Cooper Ds for on-demand taxi work and a number of MINI E electric cars. BMW paid £50m to be among the top sponsors, but later told Marketing: “It’s a one-off, but it [the sponsorship] is a long-term commitment to sport”.

London 2012: MINIGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

BMW’s sponsorship of London 2012 ensured we were treated to the sight of remote-controlled ¼-scale MINIs busying themselves with the collection of javelins, hammers, shots and discuses. The so-called ‘Mini MINIS’ stole the show and created a real buzz on social media.

London 2012: VolvoGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

Volvo wasn’t an official automotive sponsor at London 2012, but its sponsorship of the Team Volvo sailing team ensured it received its fair share of exposure. And it didn’t spend £50m for the privilege.

International Olympic Committee: AudiGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

In 2013, Audi became the official vehicle supplier for the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As part of the agreement, which expires at the end of 2016, Audi has supplied more than 40 vehicles to the IOC headquarters and Olympic Museum in Lausanne. We could say it’s the most famous four rings supporting the most famous five. But we won’t.

Beijing 2008: VolkswagenGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

Volkswagen didn’t do Beijing 2008 by half. As a main sponsor, Volkswagen supplied about 6,000 vehicles, including 4,350 VWs, 650 Skodas and 1,000 Audis. Fast forward eight years and although Volkswagen isn’t involved with Rio 2016, golf is. It’s the first time golf has been played at an Olympic Games since 1904.

Athens 2004: HyundaiGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

Meet Phevos and Athena: the official mascots of Athens 2004, symbolising the link between Ancient Greece and the modern Olympic Games. They’re flanking Tucson: the ancient Greek god of five-year warranties. Meanwhile, the Hyundai Getz was the official car of Athens 2004.

Sydney 2000: HoldenGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

Holden launched a range of Olympic Edition vehicles to mark its role as official vehicle supplier at Sydney 2000. A suitably Australian car was used to carry the Olympic torch for the Australian leg of the torch relay: a Holden VT Commodore. Strewth, mate.

Atlanta 1996: Buick Regal Olympic EditionGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

Team USA dominated their home games at Atlanta 1996, topping the medal table with 44 gold, 32 silver and 25 bronze. The motivating factor was the thought of the Buick Regal Olympic Edition, with the obligatory gold accents on the wheels and trim, along with USA badges. What you can’t see are the USA badge and Olympic rings on the head restraints.

Atlanta 1996: Buick Skylark Olympic EditionGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

In fairness, the third generation Buick Regal has aged rather well, making the final model year Olympic Edition quite a desirable thing. Its sibling, the Skylark Olympic Edition, hasn’t aged quite so gracefully. Sadly, despite appearances, the flags weren’t attached to the car. That would have been quite a look, if a little tricky to manoeuvre at the drive-through.

Barcelona 1992: SEATGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

The SEAT Ibiza was the official car of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. This was the Games at which a Unified Team – consisting of 12 former Soviet republics – topped the medal table. Great Britain’s Linford Christie took gold in the 100m, despite SEAT’s best efforts to obstruct him by placing a Toledo (pictured) on the track.

Barcelona 1992: Steve BackleyGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

The thought of a SEAT Toledo waiting for him back home wasn’t enough motivation for Steve Backley to take gold in the Javelin. That said, he did manage to grab a bronze medal. We’re not sure that javelin will fit in the boot, Steve.

Seoul 1988: Hyundai Stellar Gold MedalGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

This is the Hyundai Stellar Gold Medal special edition – a car launched to mark the Hyundai Stellar’s role as the official car of the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games. The Stellar is a rare best in the UK, with reportedly fewer than 10 left on the road.

Los Angeles 1984: Buick Century OlympiaGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

“Few of us can be Olympians, but some of us can own the car that captures the winning spirit of America’s contenders – the special edition 1984 Buick Century Olympia”. With ad copy like that, how could anyone resist the temptation of a “gleaming white” Buick? Gold accents, Olympic logos on the head restraints and the ability to stand out in suburbia came as standard.

Photo shows a non-Olympic Buick Century.

Moscow 1980: RAF-2907Gold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

Riga Autobus Factory (RAF) built vans and minibuses for Soviet state enterprises. This is a RAF-2907, a minibus based on the RAF-2203 and used throughout the Moscow 1980 Olympic Games. Approximately 300 were built, including one specially modified to carry the Olympic Flame.

Montreal 1976: Chevrolet C10 Olympic EditionGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

Montreal probably wishes it never hosted the 1976 Olympic Games, as it left the city with crippling debt, a construction nightmare and a string of corruption charges. The event itself was overshadowed by 22 African nations boycotting the Games. The Chevrolet C10 Olympic Edition was a little less controversial.

Munich 1972: BMW 1602eGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

BMW launched the 1602e to coincide with the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. It was used as a camera car and to transport members of the Olympic organising committee.

Munich 1972: BMW 1602eGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

By BMW’s own admission, its 350kg 12v lead-acid battery and range of approximately 35 miles meant that the 1602e was not designed for series production. But it hinted at a cleaner future.

Mexico 1968: Datsun Bluebird 1300Gold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

The Datsun Bluebird 1300 was the official vehicle for the Japanese team at the Mexico 1968 Olympic Games. This example was autographed by the entire team on the last day. Good luck getting your local bodyshop to respray a damaged front wing.

Tokyo 1964: Nissan Cedric SpecialGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

This rather intimidating car was Japan’s first domestic large vehicle and could easily pass as something driven by a Bond villain. It’s a 1964 Nissan Cedric Special – the car given the responsibility of carrying the Olympic torch at the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games.

Rome 1960: Fiat Multipla 600Gold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

So very Italian! The Fiat Multipla 600 made its debut in 1960 when Fiat supplied a fleet of cars to athletes and officials at the Rome 1960 Olympic Games. If that isn’t Italian enough, Fiat also supplied a fleet of 500s and Lambrettas.

That’s the Summer Games covered, next we wrap up warm to tackle the Winter Games.

Sochi 2014: Volkswagen GroupGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

Moving on to the Winter Games, the Volkswagen Group supplied 3,100 fleet vehicles to the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee. The highlight was the beefed-up Volkswagen Amarok, built to take nine people on the longest off-road journey through a single country. The Amarok Polar Editions secured a Guinness World Record for the gruelling 9,942-mile trek.

Vancouver 2010: General MotorsGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

General Motors supplied 4,600 Olympic-branded vehicles for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games, the vast majority of which were sold off after the event’s conclusion. According to GM, the vehicles were “possibly the best Olympic souvenir of all”, although we’d prefer a gold medal.

Turin 2006: Fiat SediciGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

The Fiat Sedici was the official car of the Turin 2006 Winter Games – an event that coincided with the launch of the 4×4. The car was co-developed by Fiat and Suzuki, with the design handled by Giorgetto Giugiaro. Sedici is Italian for Sixteen: 4×4=16. Geddit?

Turin 2006: Italdesign StructuraGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

The Structura was built to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Italdesign Giugiaro, but was also the official car for Turin’s bid for the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. The Structura’s doors were side-hinged, without any central pillar, while the car also featured a flat floor. Most sensational of all was the 5.6-litre W12 engine, which, metaphorically speaking, added 420hp to Turin’s bid.

Salt Lake City 2002: Chevrolet AvalancheGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

GM supplied a Chevrolet Avalanche to transport the Olympic flame during the torch relay prior to the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games. The relay covered 13,500 miles and passed through 46 states on its way to the Olympic Stadium.

Albertville 1992: RenaultGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

In 1992, Renault lent 1,500 cars to the Olympic Organisation Committee as part of the company’s sponsorship of the Albertville 1992 Olympic Winter Games. The cars were suitably white.

Albertville 1992: RenaultGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

To mark the occasion, Renault launched a range of limited edition Olympic 92 cars, including a Clio, 21, Espace, 25, 19 and A610. Note the Jeep Cherokee Olympic 92 – Renault didn’t have a 4×4 of its own.

Calgary 1988: General MotorsGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

Here’s GM once again, this time supplying cars for the Calgary 1988 Olympic Winter Games. Under the banner of ‘Join Us’, General Motors delivered a range of limited vehicles.

Sarajevo 1984: Citroen and MitsubishiGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

Mitsubishi was the official car supplier at the Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympic Games, with the likes of the Galant, Pajero and Space Wagon used to transport athletes and officials. Cimos supplied the official emergency vehicles, which were based on the Citroen CX Ambulance (pictured).

Lake Placid 1980: Ford and Subaru (US team)Gold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

The Lake Placid Olympic Organising Committee was given a fleet of 130 Ford vehicles, while the United States skiing team rolled around in four-wheel-drive Subarus.

Innsbruck 1976: Denzel and Mercedes-BenzGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

Wolfgang Denzel, a former racing driver, was also the owner and creator of Denzel – an Austrian car company. At the Innsbruck 1976 Winter Olympic Games, Wolfgang Denzel AG supplied 210 BMW, Volvo and DAF cars, while Mercedes-Benz supplied the official fleet of buses and taxis.

Grenoble 1968: RenaultGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

Renault supplied a huge amount of cars for its home Games at Grenoble in 1968. In addition to the Renault 4 (pictured), the French giant laid on Renault 16 hatchbacks and Estafette vans.

Squaw Valley 1960: Renault DauphineGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

“Why was La Renault Dauphine chosen as the official car of the Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley? Because La Dauphine is the best car for winter driving! Terrific traction on snow and ice, quick starting in the cold, toasty warm dual-outlet heater”. If that sounds suspiciously like an advertisement, it’s because it is. At the time, the Dauphine was the only small-cylinder car to win the Monte Carlo rally.

Melbourne 1956: FiatGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

Here’s Fiat once again, this time way back in 1956 at the Winter Olympic Games in Melbourne. The Italian firm was named as the official car supplier of the Games.

Rover 45 Olympic ImpressionGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

Of course, not all Olympic cars are ‘official cars’ of the actual Games. Take the Rover 25 and 45 Olympic Impression, for example. The cars featured ‘Team GB’ and ‘Impression’ livery, with early customers qualifying for a free ‘Active bag’, whatever that is.

Rover Streetwise OlympicGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

Another patriotic homegrown car, this time in the form of the Rover Streetwise Olympic SE. The car was launched in 2004, with each one finished in light blue and riding on 17-inch alloy wheels.

Buick Regal Olympic EditionGold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

And here’s yet another Buick Olympic special, this time in the form of the Regal Olympic Edition. Built to commemorate Buick’s support for Team USA at the 2004 Sydney Olympic Games, the Regal joined other Olympic specials, such as the 1984 Century Olympia, 1988 LeSabre Olympia and 1989 Olympic Regal.

Nissan March Rio 2016Gold metal: the cars of the Olympic Games

Bringing us right up to date is the Nissan March Rio 2016. Limited to 1,000 models, the March (Micra) features details in ‘Hot Orange’ – a colour that “represents the fun, heat, energy and boldness exhibited by Olympic athletes”. At least that’s what it says here.