Following his stratosphere jump in 2012, extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner is tackling his next big challenge on the Nordschleife of the Nürburgring. The Austrian will obtain a racing license and become a race driver with the Audi race experience team on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife.
The Audi race experience makes it possible for Audi’s customers with sporting ambitions to enter racing. But never before has the program, which the Audi driving experience has been running since 2010, had as prominent a driver as this one.
“It’s fantastic that we’re cooperating with Felix Baumgartner this year,” says Klaus Demel, the head of the Audi driving experience. “As an extreme athlete, Felix Baumgartner has been thrilling millions of fans around the world with his daring actions that combine ingenuity and exceptional technical demands. Now we’re familiarizing him with our sport, offer him a professional environment with our team, and are very excited about this new, joint challenge.”
As a guest entrant, Baumgartner has been gathering some racing experience in recent years during occasional runs in the one-make cups of the Volkswagen Group. The big difference in the 2014 season: the Audi R8 LMS ultra provides him with a 570hp ‘pure-bred’ GT3 race car. The 44-year-old is completing an extensive preparation program before competing in the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring on 21/22 June. His team-mates are equally prominent: The five-time Le Mans winner Frank Biela (D), the three-time Le Mans winner Marco Werner (D) as well as the GT and sports car pro Pierre Kaffer (D) will be his colleagues in the cockpit.
“This task is totally exciting and I’m looking forward to driving races in an Audi,” says Felix Baumgartner. “During initial tests in the road-going Audi R8, I got to know the Nürburgring, and in the Audi R8 LMS ultra I’ve clocked a few kilometres on various tracks as well. I regard this task as one of the major projects in my life. The environment is perfect, the atmosphere is fantastic, and I feel really well taken care of by the Audi race experience. But it’s also clear that I’m basically starting from scratch because this sport is new for me.”
Former professional rally driver Josef ‘Sepp’ Haider, now the Audi race experience’s sporting director, is one of the instructors of his Austrian compatriot. “Felix is approaching his new task in exactly the manner that is the hallmark of a pro,” says Haider. “He’s eager to learn, has good judgment of the physical conditions, and is totally motivated. All team members have come to respect him in the initial tests. I’m very much looking forward to our joint journey.”
The team will be fielding another R8 LMS ultra in the 24-hour race. The drivers of this car have already been confirmed. Already last year, Dominique Bastien (USA), Rahel Frey (CH) and Christian Bollrath(D) formed a team. Christiaan Frankenhout (NL) will be supporting the Audi race experience as a driver for the first time.