Tom Kristensen — The Motor Sport Interview

From humble beginnings as the son of a garage owner, via a brief career in banking, Tom Kristensen battled the odds and rose to become ‘Mr Le Mans’, setting records that may never be broken along the way

Tom Kristensen lead image
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Tom Kristensen won the Le Mans 24 Hours at his first attempt, having never seen the circuit until his practice laps in 1997, and went on to win the race another eight times, a record that still stands today. ‘The Great Dane’, as he is affectionately known, has also won the Sebring 12 Hours six times, another record.

In 2014 the Queen of Denmark appointed Tom ‘Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog’ in recognition of his international success. Having won the German F3 championship in 1991, and the Japanese title in ’93, he narrowly missed out on the Japanese F3000 title in 1995. He seemed destined for grand prix stardom but, despite a testing contract with Tyrrell, he opted for endurance racing and was world champion in 2013. From his home in Hobro on the Jutland Peninsula he reflects on a record-breaking career.

Motor Sport: When you first started racing, Denmark was not what you’d call a motor racing country, so how did you take your first steps up what Jackie Stewart called ‘the staircase of talent’?