Tom Kristensen

Tom Kristensen

Born:
7th July 1967 (Age 49)
Hobro, Nordjylland
Nationality:
Denmark
Most recent race (in database):
Bio

Jacky Ickx was known as the greatest Le Mans driver of all time for so long and his six wins seemed unbeatable. When Tom Kristensen surpassed that tally in 2005 it was akin to Michael Schumacher’s demolition of Formula 1’s long-standing record book. A winner on debut at both Le Mans and Sebring – he had established new records for most victories at both legendary venues by the time he retired from racing.

Upbringing and early racing career

The son of a Paris-Dakar competitor, Kristensen began karting in 1977 and his multiple title wins included the 1985 Scandinavian crown. He switched to Formula Ford 2000 in 1987 although he returned to karts to finish second in the 1987 World Championship at Jesolo.

Winner of the German and Japanese Formula 3 titles in 1991 and 1993 respectively, he finished second at Macau and won the Fuji invitational that latter year when driving a works TOM’s Toyota 033F. Kristensen continued racing in Japan and was runner-up behind Toshio Suzuki in the 1995 Formula 3000 Championship with Cerumo’s Lola-Mugen. He also finished second in the national touring car series on two occasions.

International Formula 3000

The Dane returned to European racing with Shannon Racing Italia in the 1996 FIA F3000 Championship. Fourth in the opening round at the Nürburgring, he qualified on pole position next time out at Pau. But the team folded before round three and Kristensen returned with Edenbridge Racing. Second at Silverstone and on pole again before finishing third at Spa-Francorchamps – he was sixth equal in the championship despite missing three races.

He was signed by Auto Sport Racing for the 1997 F3000 campaign and won the opening race at Silverstone. Second next time out at Pau was one of two further podium finishes. However, Kristensen was only classified sixth once more as accidents, including crashing out of the lead at Spa-Francorchamps’ Blanchimont Corner at approximately 160mph, blunted his challenge.

Winning at Le Mans

However, he had already embarked on his record-breaking Le Mans career by then. Kristensen made his debut in the 24-hour race in June 1997 when paired with Michele Alboreto and Stefan Johansson in a Joest Porsche WSC95. Running second when the leading works car retired with three hours to go, they were on hand to inherit victory.

Tyrrell’s Formula 1 reserve driver during its last season in 1998, testing a Williams FW21-Supertec a year later and Michelin’s 2000 development driver as it prepared for its return to the category was as close as Kristensen would come to Grand Prix racing.

Third in the 1999 German Super Touring Car Championship, he won on his debut in the Sebring 12 Hours that year with a BMW V12 LMR and led at Le Mans before forced to retire while in contention for victory.

The move to Audi

A move to Audi for 2000 heralded a period of unprecedented sports car domination by the marque and Kristensen always seemed to be in the right car at the right time. Six Le Mans victories in succession (including in 2003 with a Bentley EXP "Speed Eight") meant that he passed Jacky Ickx’s record at Circuit de la Sarthe in 2005.

Two years without victory in the great race, Kristensen added a record eighth victory in the 2008 Le Mans 24 Hours after rain negated Peugeot’s speed advantage. He was the 2002 American Le Mans Series Champion and he won the Sebring 12 Hours for a record sixth occasion 10 years later.

Also second at Le Mans in 2012, Kristensen and McNish finished runners-up in that year’s World Endurance Championship behind team-mates Benoît Tréluyer, André Lotterer and Marcel Fässler. He won the Le Mans 24 Hours for a record ninth time in 2013 and was crowned as that year's World Endurance Champion with co-drivers Allan McNish and Loïc Duval.

DTM title challenge and retirement

Kristensen also won races in Germany’s DTM series for Audi and challenged Bernd Schneider for the title in 2006. However, the following season began with Kristensen triggering a huge accident on the first lap of the opening DTM race at Hockenheim. He spun in the pack and was lucky to escape injury after being T-boned by three cars.

Twice Danish Sportsman of the Year and among sports car racing’s greatest drivers, the affable Kristensen was second at Le Mans once more in 2014 during his final season before retirement.

Championship seasons

SeasonNameRacesPolesStartsPodiumsWinsPositionPoints
2014World Endurance Championship808404th117
2013World Endurance Championship (LMP1)828731st162
2012Blancpain Endurance Series6 22nd10
2012World Endurance Championship828712nd159
2011Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft100100
0% win rate
15th2
2011Intercontinental Le Mans Cup201000
2010Le Mans Series5 29th13
2009Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft1021021
10% win rate
8th21
2009American Le Mans Series1001110
2008Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft1121130
0% win rate
8th27
2007Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft101700
0% win rate
14th9
2006Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft1021062
20% win rate
3rd56
2006American Le Mans Series1011110
2005American Le Mans Series1011110
2005Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft1121150
0% win rate
3rd56
2004Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft1001021
10% win rate
4th43
2004Le Mans Endurance Series4 18th6
2003FIA Sportscar Championship711110
2002American Le Mans Series1004441st0
2001American Le Mans Series10444420
2000American Le Mans Series1211110
1999American Le Mans Series811110
1997FIA International F3000 Championship102931
12% win rate
6th19
1996FIA International F3000 Championship102720
0% win rate
6th18
1993All-Japan F3 Championship 1st0
1991German F3 Championship 1st0

Non-championship races

TitleDateCircuitLapsPosition
Le Mans 24 Hours12/06/2010Le Mans3973rd
Le Mans 24 Hours13/06/2009Le Mans3823rd
Le Mans 24 Hours14/06/2008Le Mans3811st
Le Mans 24 Hours16/06/2007Le Mans369R
Le Mans 24 Hours17/06/2006Le Mans3803rd
Le Mans 24 Hours18/06/2005Le Mans3701st
Le Mans 24 Hours12/06/2004Le Mans3791st
Le Mans 24 Hours14/06/2003Le Mans3771st
Le Mans 24 Hours15/06/2002Le Mans3751st
Le Mans 24 Hours16/06/2001Le Mans3211st
Le Mans 24 Hours17/06/2000Le Mans3681st
Le Mans 24 Hours12/06/1999Le Mans366R
Le Mans 24 Hours06/06/1998Le Mans351R
Le Mans 24 Hours14/06/1997Le Mans3611st

From the Archive

He won Le Mans at his first attempt, and has barely been off the podium since then. Little wonder the Dane’s passion for La Sarthe still shines through ...
Fell bleary-eyed off the plane from Beijing and drove straight to Goodwood to a get-together of hacks and racing drivers hosted by Audi. Last year’s event was the best ‘working’ job I did all year...
  Dane breaks Jacky Ickx's Le Mans wins record in Audi R8 British Le Mans legend Derek Bell has lauded Tom Kristensen for breaking Jacky Ickx's record of six wins in the 24-hour cla...

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