Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen announces retirement from racing

Nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kristensen will retire from racing at the end of this year's World Endurance Championship

Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen announces retirement from racing

The 47-year-old Dane made the announcement on Wednesday in his homeland in the company of Audi Sport boss Wolfgang Ullrich, who brought Kristensen to the German marque ahead of the 2000 season.

Kristensen told the press conference in Copenhagen: "I have been told that you know when it's time to stop and I have not had that feeling until now.

"Over the past couple of months, my thoughts of retiring have been stronger, and therefore, it feels right to inform you today that I am retiring from motor racing.

"I still feel I am in peak physical form and possess the necessary mental toughness both in and outside of the car: it has been important for me to stop while I am still strong and able to deliver top performances at Audi."

Was Kristensen the greatest driver who never reached F1?

Kristensen said that he had chosen to announce his decision ahead of the WEC finale at Interlagos on November 30 "in order to be able to say a proper goodbye to the sport I love so much at our last race in Brazil".

Interlagos, where he will share the #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro with Loic Duval and Lucas di Grassi, will be his last event as a professional racing driver.

He had been under contract to Audi until the end of next season, but he will now become an ambassador for the German marque.

He will also have a role with Audi working with its drivers and will continue to be present at races.

Kristensen said it had been a "privilege driving for the best team and the world's coolest automobile manufacturer for 15 years".

The announcement brings to an end a career that made him one of the all-time great sportscar racers.

Kristensen won on his debut at Le Mans with the Joest privateer Porsche team in 1997, and after a two-year stint at BMW that should have yielded victory in 1999, he embarked on the most successful phase of his career upon joining Audi.

He completed a hat-trick of victories in the 24 Hours sharing Audi R8s with Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela in 2000-02, won again while on loan to Audi sister marque Bentley in 2003 and made it six wins on the trot with the works-assisted Goh and Champion teams in 2004 and '05 respectively.

Arguably his greatest Le Mans triumph came in an against-the-odds victory in 2008 together with Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello, while his ninth triumph at La Sarthe in 2013 set Kristensen, McNish and Duval on the road to the WEC title.

shares
comments
Emerson Fittipaldi set to make comeback at Brazilian WEC round
Previous article

Emerson Fittipaldi set to make comeback at Brazilian WEC round

Next article

Mike Conway to replace Kazuki Nakajima at Toyota for WEC finale

Mike Conway to replace Kazuki Nakajima at Toyota for WEC finale
How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game Plus

How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game

The 956 set the bar at the dawn of Group C 40 years ago, and that mark only rose higher through the 1980s, both in the world championship and in the US. It and its successor, the longer-wheelbase 962, were voted as Autosport's greatest sportscar in 2020 - here's why

WEC
Aug 25, 2022
Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes Plus

Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes

OPINION: While the focus has been on the exciting prospect of Ferrari vs Porsche at the Le Mans 24 Hours next year, BMW’s factory return to endurance racing should not be ignored. It won't be at the French classic next year as it focuses efforts on the IMSA SportsCar Championship, but could be a dark horse in 2024 when it returns to La Sarthe with the crack WRT squad

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2022
The problem sausage kerbs continue to cause Plus

The problem sausage kerbs continue to cause

Track limits are the problem that motorsport doesn't seem to be able to rid itself of. But the use of so-called 'sausage kerbs' as a deterrent has in several instances only served to worsen the problem, and a growing number of voices want to see action taken

Formula 1
Jul 18, 2022
The history lessons Peugeot should have learned on its return Plus

The history lessons Peugeot should have learned on its return

The Peugeot 9X8 will make its World Endurance Championship debut at Monza this weekend. The French manufacturer has gone radical and will be hoping it doesn’t need to overhaul its contender, as it did with its first Le Mans challenger…

WEC
Jul 8, 2022
Why Peugeot's sportscar return will capture the imagination Plus

Why Peugeot's sportscar return will capture the imagination

OPINION: Peugeot will make its World Endurance Championship debut at Monza this weekend with the 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar that has ignored design conventions by eschewing a rear wing. Its distinctive look will help sportscar racing appeal to fresh audiences as a new golden era is ushered in

WEC
Jul 7, 2022
How Formula E's double-duty drivers influenced their Le Mans teams' fortunes Plus

How Formula E's double-duty drivers influenced their Le Mans teams' fortunes

Eight Formula E drivers made the 7,000-mile sprint from the streets of Jakarta to the fabled Circuit de la Sarthe and every one had a story to share at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours. Despite a range of triumphs and disappointments, each driver doubling up on the day job played a key role in their teams' fortunes

Le Mans
Jun 14, 2022
How an Italian junior formula giant is readying for its Le Mans future Plus

How an Italian junior formula giant is readying for its Le Mans future

Prema remains a colossus in single-seaters, but the serial Formula 2 and Formula 3 title-winning squad has joined forces with top GT squad Iron Lynx for an attack on sportscars in the World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series. Ahead of its debut at the Le Mans 24 Hours, its sights are firmly fixed on LMP2 glory – and a future in Hypercars next year...

Le Mans
Jun 8, 2022
The British rookies targeting a good first impression at Le Mans Plus

The British rookies targeting a good first impression at Le Mans

Three young Britons will make their first starts in the Le Mans 24 Hours this weekend in the highly-competitive 23-car GTE Am field. But how did they get here? Autosport hears their stories.

Le Mans
Jun 7, 2022