Tom Kristensen, popularly known as "Mr Le Mans," will once again lead Audi's driver lineup in 2009, also his final year of DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) racing for the German marque. Tom Kristensen. Photo by xpb.cc. The Dane,...
Tom Kristensen, popularly known as "Mr Le Mans," will once again lead Audi's driver lineup in 2009, also his final year of DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) racing for the German marque.
The Dane, who has four DTM victories, 17 podium finishes and seven pole positions to his name, is running a DTM "farewell tour" this year, and he started it in style at Hockenheimring two weeks ago, starting from the front row and taking the victory in the DTM season opener.
"I'm really very happy to be driving an Audi," the 41-year-old Kristensen smiled after the DTM victory. "'100 years of Vorsprung durch Technik,' and in the 100th DTM race at that! This win is fantastic. The ten points are really valuable for me in my last DTM season."
After the 2009 DTM season finale -- also at Hockenheim, but in October -- Kristensen plans to focus exclusively on his first love, sportscar racing. Always his biggest passion, he has also shown incredible skill and talent in the sportscar cockpits, winning the legendary Le Mans 24H a record eight times with Team Joest (Porsche and Audi), Team Bentley, Team Goh (Audi), Champion Racing (Audi) and Audi Sport North America.
"Sharing the cockpit with other drivers, working together to come up with the optimum setup, and fighting for victory on a unique track -- that's simply the greatest thing for me," the Le Mans legend explains.
In total, six of Kristensen's eight victories have been with Audi, five with the original all-conquering R8, and three with its successor, the R10.
This year, Kristensen will again be sharing the driving duties of with Rinaldo Capello and Allan McNish, the trio looking to repeat last year's victory, but in the new Audi R15 this time instead of last year's R10, and with the champions' #1 emblazoned on the car. The teaming already took the victory in the R15 in this year's Sebring 12 Hours.
The #2 car will be driven by the all-German squad of Lucas Luhr, Mike Rockenfeller and Marco Werner. Werner, an Audi sportscar veteran and a three-time Le Mans winner, joins last year's fourth-place finishers Luhr and Rockenfeller, bringing some additional experience to the #2.
The third car is led by Alexandre Premat, Luhr's and Rockenfeller's teammate in last year's fourth-place finish. He will be joined by sportscar specialists Timo Bernhard, most of whose prototype experience has been at the wheel of a Porsche RS Spyder in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS).
The third driver for the #3 Audi will be Bernhard's ALMS teammate, Romain Dumas. Dumas, though, has extensive prototype driving experience at La Sarthe, having driven twice for Pescarolo and twice for Nasamax.
"The 12-hour race at Sebring was a successful dress rehearsal for us," explained the head of Audi Motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "That's why we didn't make any changes to the driver teams that competed at Sebring. The squad for the third car automatically resulted from this decision. I'm convinced that we've filled the cockpits of all three R15 TDI cars at Le Mans with outstanding racers -- also thanks to the two drivers Porsche is providing to us."