Nine-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen retires from motor racing after his last race in World Endurance Championship the 30th of November, 2014.
The 47-year old Audi driver made the announcement today at a press conference in Copenhagen accompanied by Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. With his decision, the most successful sports car driver in history ends an impressive career, which includes several records, historic triumphs, a big crash and lots of accolade.
I am proud of my career, what I have achieved, and for the memories that I will have forever.
"I have reached the finish line. I have grown up. I have been told that you know when it's time to stop. I have not had that feeling until now. Over the last 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. After the last WEC race of the season next week it's over. That gives me the opportunity to do other things in life going forward.
A happy day
"For me today is a happy day. I am proud of my career, what I have achieved, and for the memories that I will have forever. I feel privileged to have worked with so many inspiring and talented people. I have driven with the best co-drivers on the best teams in the world. If I could do it all again, I would not change a single decision in my career.
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.
I have chosen to announce my retirement now in order to be able to say a proper goodbye to the sport I love so much at our last race in Sao Paolo in Brazil.
After my accident at Hockenheim in 2007, where the strong chassis saved my life, I have had even bigger focus on training. Over the past years I have felt that staying in peak physical condition and keeping my weight down have required more and more from my body. It is a very competitive and intense sport, which requires complete focus all the time. At the same time, I have had about 250 travel days a year and that naturally means much time away from my family.
After the 2013-season, which was the most successful season of my career, the regulations and the cars in the World Endurance Championship were changed substantially. It has been very motivating for me to play a role in the development of Audis new generation of sports cars, which took a 1-2 victory at Le Mans this year. That has been a main focus of 2014, where I feel I haven't quite made any mistakes throughout the season. There are several younger drivers at Audi who now deserves to get the chance, just as I got my first chance in endurance racing at Le Mans back in 1997.
After almost 35 years in motorsport, about 25 of them as professional, there are incredibly many people that I owe my thanks. That also goes for my time in go-kart, to Formula 3 in Germany to my fantastic five years in Japan. Motorsport is a team sport. I cannot mention them all here today, but I can say a big and loud thank you to all the fans, who have supported me throughout my career at Le Mans and around the world. I have been incredibly proud and emotional every time I have seen a Danish flag sway in the wind, listen to crowd and felt the support. There is no better feeling for an athlete. For that I would like to say Thank You."
Stays in motorsport in the future
Despite Tom Kristensen soon puts on his racing gloves for the very last time he already has his future planned. The Dane originally had a contract with Audi for 2015 also, but that has now been exchanged for a contract as a life-long ambassador for the brand with the four rings. Kristensen will be more than just a passive figure at Audi - he will also travel to races, events and so going forward. The Le Mans-legend has throughout his time with the German team been widely regarded as one of the Audi drivers in best physical shape. Besides the ambassador role Kristensen will now join the team that optimize, support and develop the physical and mental approach for Audi works drivers. That means that Tom Kristensen going forward will have an active role in providing insights in these aspects for Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.
"I have been with Audi since 2000 and together we have been successful. I feel we are a family. Therefore I immediately said yes, when Dr. Ullrich offered me to become an ambassador for Audi and thereby still be a part of motorsport and the Audi family. It feels right. So does the opportunity to help optimize the approach for the drivers' physical and mental training. That also means that I will continue to be present at races, including Le Mans, and I am already looking forward to have more time next year to meet with all the fans, who are having a great time there.
I will also continue in my current role as F1 Driver Steward and my commercial partners. Otherwise, I would like use the extra time with Hanne, our three kids and friends. My oldest son turns 18 soon and that is truly an eye-opener for how quickly time has passed in this intense sport. Other than that, I might be able to see a few more of my hometown Hobro's football matches together with my kids, who knows, " says Tom K.
Tom Kristensen's goodbye also means a goodbye to one of the biggest names in motorsport history. The humble Dane has won nine Le Mans victories and Sebring-titles, which are two major records. He has also won the FIA World Endurance Championship (2013), American Le Mans Series (2002), the Japanese Formula 3 championship (1993) and the German Formula 3 championship (1991). The endurance great has furthermore received some of the greatest accolade and prizes for his merits. Induction in 'Motorsport's Hall of Fame', Le Mans Drivers' hall of Fame' and Danish Motorsport Award Hall of Fame', knighted by the Danish monarchy, 2-times Danish Sportsman of the Year, 7-time Danish Driver of the Year, Sportscar Driver of the Decade by Autosport, Sportsman of the decade by Danish TV2 and Berlingske and honorary citizen in his hometown of Hobro - just to name a few.
Career and highlights
Tom Kristensen, born: 07.07.1967 in Hobro, Lives in: Hobro. Denmark. Status: Partner (Hanne), two sons (Oliver and Oswald) one daughter (Carla Malou). Started racing in 1978 (gokart), professionel in 1991. Merits: 9-times 24 Hours of Le Mans winner (Record), six of them in a row from 2000 - 2005 (Record). 6-times 12 Hours of Sebring winner (Record). FIA World Endurance Champion 2013. American Le Mans Series champion, 2002. German Formula 3-champion (1991). Japanese Formula 3-champion (1993). 4-times DTM race winner. Formula 1 test driver (Tyrell/BAR, Williams F1). Danish go-kart champion 1984, 1985, 1986, Scandinavian go-kart champion in go-kart 1985. Competed in Race of Champions more times than any other driver. Competed in Formula 3, Formula 3000, Formula Nippon, All Japan Super Touring, STW, BTCC, DTM, ILMS & World Endurance Championship. Won at least one race in every series he has contested.
FIA Driver Steward (2010-)
Associated Member, FIA Institute (2013-)
Ambassador for Copenhagen Historic Grand Prix (2007-)
Ambassador for FIA eSafety (2009-)
Mr. Motorsport '87 (Bilen, Motor & Sport); World's Best F3 driver 1993 (Autosport); Danish Racing Driver of the Century, 1999 (Bilmagasinet); B.T. Gold 2001 og 2002; World's Best Sports Car Driver 2001 (Autosport); Sportscar Driver of the Year 2002 (Motoring News) Driver of the Year 1999, 2000 2002-04,08,13 (DASU); Sportsman of the Year 2002 og 2005 (DIF/Jyllands-Posten/Team Danmark); Autosport Gregor Grant Award 2005; Sportsman of the Year 2005 (Berlingske); TV 2 Zulu Award Greatest Sport Achievement of the Year 2002-03-05; honorary member of the British Racing Drivers Club 2006.Trophee de L'exploit Sportif 2008 (L'Automobile Magazine); Sports Personality of the Decade 2010 (TV2 og Berlingske) og The Sports Car driver of the Decade, 2010 (Autosport); Danish Motorsport Award 2012 (B.T. Award); Inducted into Motorsport's Hall of Fame 2013, Le Mans Drivers' Hall of Fame 2013; Hans Just A/S' Award 2013; Named 'Best driver, never to race in Formula 1' (2013); BTs Gold Award 2014; Knighted with the Order of the Dannebrog for his contribution to and achievements in sport, Honorary citizen of his hometown of Hobro.
Statistics and info - selected series
- RECORD: 9-time Le Mans winner (1997, 2000-2006, 2008, 2013)
- RECORD: Only person to win Le Mans six times in a row (2000-2006)
- 9 victories in 18 attempts - success rate of 50%
- Has won 11% of all Le Mans races in history
- Tom Kristensen's record for most wins can in theory only be surpassed in 2021 given that Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer or Benoit Treluyer wins every edition of Le Mans for the next seven years.
- Has been on the podium 14 times
- Has never finished a Le Mans without being on the podium
- Set lap record at his first attempt on the La Sarthe track (1997)
- RECORD: 6-time Sebring-winner (1999, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2012)
- Six victories in 13 attempts - success rate of 46%
- Nine podiums
- 4 victories (Oscherleben 2004, Oschersleben 2006, Zandvoort 2006, Hockenheim 2009)
- 18 podiums in 61 races
- Scored points in 46 races (equalling 75% of his total races)
- World Champion in 2013 and runner-up in 2012.
- German Formula 3 Champion (1991) - Succeeded Michael Schumacher
- Japanese Formula 3 Champion (1992)
- Macau & Fuji Inter F3 Worldwide F3 Winner (1993)
- 2nd World Karting Championship 1987
- Danish & Scandinavian Karting Champion (1985)
Credit: Tom Kristenten press office