Over the years, Ingolstadt has sent out numerous Press Releases in his name that smelt of burnt rubber and exuded the heat from an indomitable fire. Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen has withdrawn his victorious presence from the track. The 47-year old Dane ran his last race as a professional race driver at the WEC finale in Sao Paulo (Brazil) on the last day of November. The Audi factory driver will continue with the brand as a representative and partner of Audi Sport.
He was part of the trio that won Audi’s first victory in a sports car race 12-hour race at Sebring (USA) in March of 2000, and three months later, their first Le Mans 24 Hours victory. In the Audi R8, the trio was the first driver team in history to win the world’s most famous endurance race three times in succession. Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, who brought in Tom Kristensen to join Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro at the end of 1999, observes, “He’s the last member of the generation that Audi began with in prototype racing. Tom has been competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) as the reigning World Champion this year and shown that he’s still one of the world’s fastest and best sports car drivers. We’re happy that Tom Kristensen has been and will continue to be an ‘Audian’ with his heart and soul.”
From 2003 to 2005, Kristensen added three more wins – one with Bentley and two with Audi customer teams – to complete six consecutive titles at Le Mans, which elevates him to the status of a legend. In 2008 and 2013, the Dane took two more victories, in the new Audi R10 TDI and the Audi R18 e-tron quattro. With nine victories in total, Tom Kristensen is the most successful Le Mans driver of all time.
In 2002, Kristensen won the American Le Mans Series in the Audi R8. Even in the DTM, he made is mark with nine pole positions, four race victories and 18 podium places between 2004 and 2009. In 2007, he faced the most severe accident in his career in DTM from which he bounced back in a matter of weeks, thanks to his outstanding fitness. His last professional race was in the car sporting the number that best describes him: number ‘1.’