September 14 - Former Formula One driver Alex Zanardi (pictured) is aiming for a place on the Italian cycling team at the Paralympic Games in London in 2012, he has announced.

The 42-year-old had both legs amputated following a Champ Car crash at the Lausitzring in 2001.

He returned to racing in 2003 and has competed in the European and then World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) in each season since.

Zanardi has also taken up hand cycling and finished 14th in last week's individual time trial at the Para-Cycling Road World Championship in Italy.

Zanardi's time of 33min 55.19sec over the 19.4km course was 4:45 behind the clear winner Oz Sanchez from the United States, who won gold at the Paralympics in Beijing last year, but he finished just one place below his Italian compatriot Giovanni Achenza.

He previously finished fourth on his hand cycling debut in the 2007 New York City Marathon, and is now targeting the 2012 Paralympics.

Most hand-cycles resemble tricycles and are propelled by athletes using their upper body rather than their legs.

Zanardi said: "My honest objective is to be at the level of the best Italian bikers, waiting for a dream that could come true in London in 2012."

Zanardi currently lies 12th in this year's WTCC standings with one victory, at Brno in June.

Zanardi, who participated in the opening ceremony of the 2006 Winter Paralympics in Turin, drove for a number of Formula One teams, including Williams, before dropping out in 2000 and moving to other classes when he was replaced by Britain's Jenson Button, who is now leading the World Championship.