As if jumping out of a helium balloon towards the Earth from 39 kilometres high wasn’t enough, daredevil Felix Baumgartner is now ready to take on his latest challenge.
Baumgartner will gain an official racing licence and will take to the track behind the wheel of an Audi R8 LMS ‘pure bred’ GT3 race car.
He will go through an extensive training programme to be ready for the rigours of the track and driving in such dangerous conditions.
The race will take place on June 21st-22nd and Baumgartner will have notable team-mates on his side, including five-time Le Mans winner Frank Biela, three-time Le Mans winner Marco Werner and GT and sports car pro Pierre Kaffer.
Audi race experience is open to Audi customers who want to give driving on the track a go, but it is the first time the event has taken on such a notable participant.
Klaus Demel, head of the Audi driving experience, said it is “fantastic” that the company will be working with such a well known figure.
“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 familiarising him with our sport, offering him a professional environment with our team, and are very excited about this new, joint challenge,” he added.
Baumgartner won’t be going into the training completely blind, however, as he has already gained some experience in racing as part of the one-make cups of the Volkswagen Group. This time though, the Audi R8 is quite a different beast.
The latest version comes with new aerodynamic configuration to minimise drag and increase speed. This will also help to reduce fuel consumption, which is vital for an endurance race.
It has been equipped with new front suspension geometry to reduce the car’s tendency to dive under excessive braking, while new wheel designs are expected to make pit stops quicker through a simpler changing system.
Baumgartner said his latest task is “totally exciting” and that he is looking forward to being behind the wheel of this rather special Audi machine.
“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,” he continued.
“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.”
Josef ‘Sepp’ Haider, a former professional rally driver, is one of the instructors teaching Baumgartner the secrets of the racing world. He has already described his fellow Austrian as exhibiting all the hallmarks of a professional.
“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,” he enthused.