Fellow Audi driver salutes his mentor.
By hanging up your helmet, you are ending an important chapter in the history of both endurance racing and Audi Sport; a chapter I am honoured to have been a part of. Although we have only been crew-mates for two years, I will treasure the countless memories we made together. In a field of many talented drivers, there is only one Tom Kristensen.
With charisma, impeccable results and a fantastic attitude in and out of the car, you are the ultimate role model for any racing driver. Your motivation and dedication have never waivered over the years. The extraordinary amount of time you have spent at the top equally provokes admiration and jealousy! I am proud and privileged to have been a part of your unforgettable career. You have been the best ambassador for endurance racing and Audi. You inspired what seemed like the whole of Denmark to visit La Sarthe every June, devotion that has never been seen before. What you have done for our sport is simply remarkable.
When I started with Audi Sport in early 2012 you were one of the first to come and greet me at our traditional pre-season winter training camp in Ofterschwang, and said, “Welcome to the family”. It was humbling to say the least. A few months later you opened the door of my Audi in parc fermé only moments after the chequered flag had dropped on the Le Mans 24 Hours, embraced me and whispered, “I’m happy you will be on the team”. This meant the world to me, coming from the Le Mans wins record holder.
In 2013, I was trusted with the difficult job of trying to fill the shoes of your long-time friend and team-mate, Dindo Capello, and asked to join Allan [McNish] and you. I am proud to be counted as one of the drivers who have won Le Mans alongside both of you. I know that your ninth and final triumph at La Sarthe holds a special place in your heart for many reasons, and I am honoured to have shared it with you.
'I will feel like an orphan...'
I am equally proud to have become World Endurance Champion alongside Allan and you, a trophy that was missing from your collection. After all that you have done for the sport, the two of you fully deserve to have been crowned with the title in your careers. Another unforgettable memory is the film that we shot for last year’s FIA Prize Giving ceremony in Paris. With Allan bowing out last year and you at the end of this season, I will feel like an orphan as the sole member of the 2013 campaign still at the wheel next year.
The final race of the season is always a challenge, and the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo will be no exception. But I look forward to this race as a celebration of the end of an incredible chapter of your illustrious career, both on and off the track. I use the word ‘chapter’ because I know that I will always be able to count on you as you continue to be a vital member of the Audi family, as I have done with Allan this year.
One last thing Tom: as a podium-finisher every time you’ve raced at the Le Mans 24 Hours, and a nine-time winner, I have to ask – what’s the secret?