Heroes
Topic

Heroes

Motorsport Heroes: Kristensen on his first Le Mans 24h win

In Motorsport Heroes, the full-length feature film by Manish Pandey now available on Motorsport.tv, four legends of our sport share their successes, failures, personal struggles and life-threatening accidents. Today we hear from Tom Kristensen, regaling the story of his first of nine victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

‘Mr Le Mans’ scored the first of his record number of wins with the Joest Racing team, with whom he’d go on to enjoy many more successes under the Audi brand. But that 1997 victory came in a TWR Porsche WSC-95, sharing with veteran F1 racers Michele Alboreto and Stefan Johansson.

In the film, he says: “When I was driving at night, close to 3am, and I knew that was going to be the key – and it hit me at that moment – understanding I was in a team that had a chance of fighting for the podium,” he says. “Lap times were getting better. 

“I kept going and suddenly Ralf Juttner, team manager, came on the radio: ‘Schnellste runde, schnellste runde, Tom’ – which means fastest lap.

“A lap later he said: ‘Lap record, lap record! Keep it steady young man! Keep it steady!’ You get a German to speak to you in English… [laughter around the table] I really was happy.

“We caught and passed one of the works cars, and we won the race. I’d never done anything like that before, nothing took so much out of me like the Le Mans 24 Hours."

Pandey, who wrote the multi award-winning Senna movie, the 111-minute film interweaves the narratives of our Motorsport Heroes, telling their stories with both archive and first-hand testimony.

To stream the full movie, subscribe to Motorsport.tv from $4.99/€4.50/£3.99 a month.

 

shares
comments
Gallery: Over 70 years of Porsche's history in pictures

Previous article

Gallery: Over 70 years of Porsche's history in pictures

Next article

More practice time on revised Le Mans 24 Hours schedule

More practice time on revised Le Mans 24 Hours schedule
Load comments

About this article

Series Le Mans
Drivers Tom Kristensen
Teams Team Joest
Author Charles Bradley
How an ingenious fix prevented Paul Newman from winning Le Mans Prime

How an ingenious fix prevented Paul Newman from winning Le Mans

It's one of the great what-if stories in Le Mans history. Paul Newman finished second in the 24 Hours in 1979, but it could easily have been a famous victory were it not for the resourcefulness of the late Manfred Kremer.

Le Mans
Apr 13, 2021
Why Ferrari is ending its 50-year top-flight sportscar racing exile Prime

Why Ferrari is ending its 50-year top-flight sportscar racing exile

Making a return to top-flight sportscar racing after 50 years away, Ferrari will enter the Le Mans Hypercar ranks in 2023. The Italian marque denies the link with Formula 1's new cost cap that frees up resources, but it's certainly no coincidence...

WEC
Feb 25, 2021
Oliver Gavin's Corvette Racing highlights Prime

Oliver Gavin's Corvette Racing highlights

Oliver Gavin has stepped down from the full-time Corvette Racing line-up after a stellar career with the team spanning nearly 20 years. He looks back on a stint that encompassed, among other successes, five Le Mans 24 Hours victories.

Le Mans
Jan 28, 2021
How Tandy joined an exclusive club of endurance legends Prime

How Tandy joined an exclusive club of endurance legends

Victory at last year's Spa 24 Hours meant Nick Tandy had completed the unofficial sextuple crown of the world's six biggest endurance races, becoming the first Briton to do so. Ahead of his fresh start with Corvette Racing, he explains how he did it…

Le Mans
Jan 24, 2021
The cherished curios kept by motorsport's professionals at home Prime

The cherished curios kept by motorsport's professionals at home

Keeping trophies and momentos of key triumphs is par for the course for motorsport professionals, but what are the most cherished souvenirs picked up by the drivers and engineers who have seen and done it all?

General
Dec 26, 2020
The Porsche icon that forged sportscar racing's greatest era Prime

The Porsche icon that forged sportscar racing's greatest era

Porsche is returning to the top class of Le Mans with an LMDh prototype that it hopes will write its next successful chapter in sportscar racing. But it will have to go some to emulate its 956/962, a car which defines the Group C age more than any other.

Le Mans
Dec 16, 2020
How Tom Kristensen forged his ‘Mr Le Mans’ legend Prime

How Tom Kristensen forged his ‘Mr Le Mans’ legend

He is synonymous with success at the Circuit de la Sarthe, but Tom Kristensen's sportscar legacy amounts to much more than his record-breaking nine Le Mans wins, as the most successful driver ever at Sebring and a world champion to boot…

Le Mans
Dec 7, 2020
Why Audi’s shock return promises a new age for sportscars Prime

Why Audi’s shock return promises a new age for sportscars

OPINION: The news that Audi will return to Le Mans means we'll at last get to see the fight promised in 2012 against Peugeot and Toyota. It also gives LMDh a tangible form, which could open the floodgates for more like-minded marques to follow suit…

WEC
Dec 1, 2020