Tom Kristensen Q&A

Last weekend Tom Kristensen won the 68th Le Mans 24hrs with Audi. This weekend he returns to the British Touring Car Championship to take up his seat in one of the works Honda Accords. Nick Phillips asked the Dane about making the change from sportscars to Touring cars

Tom Kristensen Q&A



Yeah, but it's not unusual to me. I've been doing it for many years, especially during my time in Japan, when I was driving in Group C and in Formula 3000. I've tested Formula 1, I've tested Indycars, and I've done sportscars, Super Touring cars, even Group A Nissan Skylines in Japan. Last year I even won the Copenhagen Classic Car Cup in a Mini Cooper, so I've driven all sorts of things. This year I've done Sebring as well with Audi, some testing with them too, plus Formula 1 testing for Michelin. So I'm used to jumping in and out of different cars. The only people who are worried some times are my team bosses, but that's their problem.



Sometimes, yes, but it's hard to say because you could only really compare if you were going back to the same circuit with a different car. Here I've come to Croft and it takes some time to adapt to the circuit, but not long. If you can't be on the pace quite quickly then for sure it would be a problem, but I don't feel that. I find I get into the rhythm quite quickly.



No. Certainly Le Mans is the big one, but it's quite easy. First of all it was a great effort from the whole team. The car was fantastic. I'm just very, very pleased and being on top of the podium again is absolutely gorgeous and fantastic, but I come from a part of Denmark where you keep your feet stamped firmly on the ground. I am starting to learn to try to enjoy the success more. Every racing driver spends so much time focusing on his racing that when you get a result like Le Mans, you certainly have to enjoy it. When you come back to the world of the BTCC, which is the hardest series of its type, it's a fantastic spectacle. We are able to run so close. The racing is pure racing, like old times and because the cars work on mechanical grip and driver skill rather than downforce. You can overtake on the way into corners, in the middle and on the way out, that's why it's spectacular and why it takes a hell of a lot of concentration to be competitive. It's a different skill, a completely different driving style. As an example in the BTCC, and in Formula 1, I brake with the left foot, but in a sportscar I brake with the right foot - to get a rhythm for the long distance. Then you come to the aerodynamics and the difference in power and then the Honda is a front wheel-drive car. I have to make sure that I pace myself into the corners with the Honda. With the front wheel drive car it's all about exit speed, whereas in sportscars and in Formula 1, all the speed you can carry into the corner is a plus.



I feel I do, but certainly I have to work at it and think about it. I have done it many times, so it is also a bit to do with experience. I think I'm a driver who understands that you get nowhere on talent alone, you still have to keep thinking and you still have to accept the input from team engineers. So it's quite easy for me to do it, because I have the backing from the teams. For me, what I do in sportscars is completely natural, when I get back in the Super Touring car, I have to think and pace myself a lot, to drive it in a different way. Formula 1 is new to me, so that takes a lot of energy, because of the cornering speeds and the braking distances and so on, so what comes easiest to me is sportscars. But BTCC and Le Mans are very different types of racing. In a sportscar, you run a lot with just you and the car, whereas in the BTCC you run with competitors all over you. I feel very fortunate that I can drive at a high level in the two categories. I certainly enjoy both worlds. Le Mans is the greatest race - the spectacle and the crowds, and so many Danish spectators - and then the teamwork between the three drivers is really nice and character-building. It's fantastic. Coming back to BTCC, of course it's a bit quieter here, but that's only until the race starts, because then it is always a hell of a race and with the effort and energy everyone puts into it, it sparks from start to finish. You can't really compare the two. At Le Mans, you have to keep the car on the road and stay out of trouble - you really stay out of everything you do in the BTCC, so the tactics are completely different, and I would love it if the BTCC could be like Le Mans sometimes - when I show my nose to a slower car in front and it opens the door for me. I would love it if I could show my nose to a Plato or a Rydell and that would happen. But I'm not in a dream world.



I always concentrate fully on everything I do and now it's the BTCC. It may be that I will drive a bit more for Audi again at the end of the year and I hope that Michelin will call me again for some more F1 testing. It looks likely, but nothing is settled.



It's very close and everybody at Honda has been working hard. We are on the pace now and we have all had a win, but you can also see that the weight handicap - which I think is a great success for the series - makes a big difference. If you have no weight you are at the front, if you have some you are probably in the midfield. We have caught up on speed, but we need to win regularly to catch up on points. We need a bit of luck as well. The prospects are positive, but it's not like we can say we are definitely going to catch up. We need to work and to continue the trend we have started. I'm looking forward to it, because I think we have a pretty good chance.

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