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.
Gallery: Over 70 years of Porsche's history in pictures
More practice time on revised Le Mans 24 Hours schedule