SPORT

Felix Baumgartner To Drive Audi R8 At Nürburgring For 24 Hours (PICTURES)

07/03/2014 14:15 GMT | Updated 02/04/2014 11:59 BST

Following his stratospheric 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.

“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 familiarising him with our sport, offer him a professional environment with our team, and are very excited about this new, joint challenge.”

felix baumgartner nürburgring

Baumgartner will race around the track where Niki Lauda nearly died

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. However, the big difference this year is that the Audi R8 LMS ultra gives him with a 419 kW (570 hp) ‘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 June.

His team-mates will be equally well know, especially amongst the sportscar fraternity; 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," Baumgartner said. “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.

Baumgartner at the Nürburgring

"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.”

In 1976, Formula 1 driver Niki Lauda proposed drivers boycott the Nürburgring over safety fears, which was rejected. He crashed in his Ferrari and was badly burned.