It was deep in the night at the 1997 Le Mans 24 Hours, and a star suddenly appeared next to the name Tom Kristensen on the timing screens. That meant the Joest Porsche driven by the race rookie had just posted its fastest lap so far. A few minutes later, a double star appeared. That signified the #7 car had just set fastest lap of the race. It was a portent of what was to come for Kristensen, because a star was born in the small hours of that Sunday morning.
That was the beginning of a romance between Kristensen and Le Mans. The young driver fell in love with the place, and seemingly the place fell in love with him. They say that the Circuit de la Sarthe chooses its winners and it picked Kristensen and team-mates Michele Alboreto and Stefan Johansson aboard the Joest Racing Porsche WSC95 that year. Over the next 17 editions of the 24 Hours it would choose him another eight times as he amassed a record tally of nine victories in the great race.
"That's when I really started to fall in love with Le Mans," explains Kristensen. "It suddenly all came together on this amazing track, everything clicked. But it didn't happen immediately."