***No fewer than 20 drivers who took part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans are also set to tackle the “Green Hell” for their second twice-around-the-clock enduro in a week. The list includes Le Mans winners Marcel Fassler (Phoenix Audi) and Nicki Thiim (Abt Audi), as well as Jeroen Bleekemolen (Black Falcon Mercedes), Rene Rast (Phoenix Audi), Patrick Pilet (Frikadelli Porsche), Stefan Muecke, Darren Turner, Pedro Lamy (Aston Martin Racing), Joerg Bergmeister (Haribo Racing Porsche), Richard Westbrook (Abt Audi), Pierre Kaffer (Audi Race Experience) Abdulaziz Al-Faisal (Black Falcon Mercedes), Roman Rusinov (G-Drive Audi), Markus Palttala (Marc VDS BMW), Pierre Ehret (GT Corse by Rinaldi Ferrari), Alexandre Imperatori (Falken Porsche), Alvaro Parente (Dorr McLaren), Nick Heidfeld and Lucas Ordonez (RJN Nissan) and Tristan Gommendy (Salini Seat)
***Three teams are also double-dipping, but to varying degrees. Aston Martin Racing, whose Young Driver-backed Vantage won GTE-Am, fields a factory Vantage GT3, while LMP2 class winners Jota Sport is here with a factory Mazda MX-5 in the V3 class, but with a completely separate crew. It’s a similar case for N24 veterans Manthey Racing, which is fielding four Porsches, and supports the factory Porsche FIA WEC team.
***Hignett’s Jota Sport team includes N24 rookie Stefan Johansson, who finished second in the 1983 Nürburgring 1000km with Bob Wolleck aboard a Joest Porsche 956, which was contested on the Nordschleife layout. Despite this, the Swede still had to complete his rookie tests, which included a VLN race in April and a full-day class.
***While Fassler will be looking for back-to-back 24-hour overall victories, the Swiss driver wouldn’t be the first to achieve that feat as Kenneth Heyer took wins in last year’s 24 Hours of Zolder and Barcelona 24 Hours, which ran on consecutive weekends.
***Renowned daredevil and Red Bull Stratos jumper Felix Baumgartner is among the stars in this year’s race, piloting an Audi R8 LMS ultra with Kaffer and former Audi factory drivers Frank Biela and Marco Werner. The 45-year-old Austrian, a multiple world record-holder in skydiving, makes his N24 debut following months of training and VLN competition on the famed 15-mile Nordschleife circuit.
***This year’s N24 features an influx of American drivers, with no fewer than 13 taking part. It includes TUDOR United SportsCar Championship regulars Charles Espenlaub and Charlie Putman teaming with Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge ace Shelby Blackstock in the No. 22 Prosport Performance Porsche 991, as well as endurance veterans Shane Lewis and Vic Rice, who are set for their 39th and 36th 24-hour starts, respectively.
***Lewis and Rice’s No. 74 GDL Racing Porsche 991 was rebuilt following a testing accident at Spa earlier this week but has battled persistent ABS problems through qualifying. The duo, who are joined by Alexey Veremenko and Colin White in the only 991-based Porsche Cup car entered in SP7, qualified 15th in class.
***Rotek Racing, meanwhile, scored SP4T class pole with their Audi TT RS, the same car that took overall honors in December’s Thunderhill 25 Hours. Three of the team’s drivers from that winning effort — Rob Huff and Americans Robb Holland and Kevin Gleason — are part of the four-driver roster here this weekend. The locally based squad, which also won April’s N24 Qualifying Race in class, has made a late switch from Yokohama to Michelin tires.
***Among the numerous journalist cars in the race include the No. 235 BMW 235i, which makes its N24 debut with former Moto GP star-turned German TV commentator Alex Hofmann, Sport Auto editor-in-chief Marcus Schurig, EVO Magazine’s Jethro Bovingdon and BMW junior driver Alexander Mies. DRIVE’s Chris Harris is also taking part in an Aston Martin Vantage V8 GT4.
***There are a total of 168 cars expected to start the ADAC Zurich 24h Race. Follow all of the action, with live video and audio coverage on the series’ official website. The race takes the green Saturday at 4 p.m. local (10 a.m. ET)