Felix Baumgartner to race at ROC The Race Of Champions is set to feature its fastest ever competitor as ‘Space Dive’ record-breaker Felix Baumgartner has signed up to race in ROC 2013 at Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium on December 14-15.
The world held its breath last year as a live YouTube audience of eight million people saw Baumgartner jump to Earth from 39km up in the highest ever manned balloon flight. Along the way he set a record for the fastest ever freefall and became the first man to accelerate through the sound barrier without a vehicle.
The achievement marked the end of a five-year planning process with the Red Bull Stratos team, not to mention a 25-year skydiving career for Baumgartner in which he completed over 2,500 parachute jumps. The Austrian also set a world record for the lowest BASE jump from Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue in 1999 and he has a string of other firsts to his name.
Now he’s safely back on solid ground, Baumgartner has officially quit the daredevil business but his need for speed hasn’t quite evaporated. Armed with a vehicle for a change, he recently raced in a VW Scirocco Cup event supporting Germany’s DTM series (see pictures below). Now it’s time for the next step: taking on the world class field of motor sport greats assembling in Bangkok for ROC 2013.
Baumgartner said: ‘I’ve seen a lot of the Race Of Champions because I’ve always been really interested in motor sport. My Dad never invested money in it so I moved in a different direction and became a skydiver. But I’ve practiced rally driving with a friend and in the last couple of years I’ve had a lot of invitations to motor sport events so I’m practicing and practicing and getting better and better. Of course I’m at a very medium level but I’m used to speed, picking things up fast and I’m not scared to compete against the best.
‘I like the Race Of Champions concept because nobody really has the chance to practice a lot: you just hop into the car and do your best. Because it’s right between F1 and rally driving, whoever wins really is the best overall motor sport competitor. Of course everyone is at the top of their game, so I’m the one with the least amount of pressure this time. They all want to show they’re the best racing driver in the world, whereas I’m a skydiver… So no one will be expecting very much from me and as long as I don’t damage the car and I do a couple of cool laps, everybody’s going to say: ‘Hey, he’s not as bad as we thought he would be!’ I’m looking forward to it and I’m sure I’m going to learn a lot from it. The more I can learn, the better.”
Race organizer Fredrik Johnsson added: “We are thrilled that Felix will be able to join us for the first time at the Race Of Champions. Our event is all about speed and I can think of few more famous speedsters than the man we all saw hurtle towards Earth from the edge of space last year. We are always looking to find great achievers from different disciplines and it’s always fascinating to see the interaction between them so it’s fantastic to have someone like Felix in the mix.
“Felix is no mean driver either, and he has driven both the VW Scirocco Cup and the KTM X-Bow from our range of cars so he could give the regular drivers a fright. He may also be keen to educate the others on the true meaning of the word ‘spin’… We hope plenty of fans will grab this chance to see a world-famous daredevil take on a world-class field of motor sport greats in Bangkok.”
Held every year since 1988, the Race Of Champions brings together the world’s greatest drivers from motor sport’s main disciplines – including Formula 1, World Rally, Le Mans, MotoGP, Nascar, IndyCar, Touring Cars and the X-Games – and sets them free to battle head-to-head in identical machinery.
ROC 2013 will take place on a specially constructed tarmac track with two parallel lanes winding their way round Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium. Drivers pair up for the ROC Nations Cup, this year scheduled for Saturday 14 December, ahead of the individual Race Of Champions on Sunday 15 December.
ROC features stars from all over the world: seven-time F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher, Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen, motorcycling ace Mick Doohan, V8 Supercar great Jamie Whincup and 2013 World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier have already signed up. The rest of the field will be announced in the run-up to next month’s event.
Tickets are now available from www.raceofchampions.com where you can also find further information and access to high-resolution imagery. Sign up for all the latest updates at www.raceofchampions.com, Race Of Champions on Facebook or @raceofchampions and the hashtag #BangROC on Twitter.
Drivers already announced for the 2013 Race Of Champions:
Michael SCHUMACHER, seven-time Formula 1 World Champion
Tom KRISTENSEN, nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner, FIA WEC Champion 2013
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