Tom Kristensen is a former racing driver from Denmark, who was given a nickname Mister Le Mans because he is considered to be the greatest driver ever to participate in the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Kristensen won the race nine times and that is three times more than the second-placed Jacky Ickx with six victories.
Apart from Le Mans, Kristensen is a record holder at one more endurance classic, the 12 Hours of Sebring, where he was the winner six times. Most of his wins Kristensen achieved driving for Audi, his 2013 FIA WEC championship title included.
Racing with kart until the age of 23
Tom Kristensen was born on July 7th, 1967, in Hobro, Denmark. He started his racing career in 1984, driving karts. He won several titles and progressed to the world karting scene. Between 1987 and 1990 Kristensen competed at the same time in the karting championships and some single-seater series, such was Formula Ford 2000 and Formula 3.
Formula 3 champion in Germany 1991
In 1991, Tom left the karting and completely switched to Formula 3 competition, which proved to be a good move, since he immediately became the German Formula 3 champion, driving for Volkswagen Motorsport. With three wins in 11 races, Kristensen won the title against some drivers who later made a respectable world careers, such were Marco Werner, Jörg Müller or Peter Kox.
Busy racing schedule in Japan, 1992
With a championship trophy in his bag, Tom moved to Japan and during 1992 season he competed in four different series. He was most successful in the Japanese Touring Car Championship, finishing third in Class 1 final standings. He was driving the Nissan Skyline GT-R for the team Object T.
Meanwhile, with Navi Connection Racing team he was competing in the Japanese Formula 3 and Formula 3000. He also recorded one race in the Japanese Sports-Prototype Championship, driving Toyota TS010 for Team TOM's.
Japanese Formula 3 champion in 1993
Kristensen spent five more seasons in Japan, scoring many victories and taking one title. In 1993, he was the Japanese Formula 3 champion, ahead of two other European drivers Rickard Rydell and Anthony Reid.
In 1994, Kristensen finished as a runner-up in the Japanese Touring Car Championship, driving Toyota Corona for Team TOM's. He lost the title with just one point gap behind Masanori Sekiya. In 1995, Tom was again the vice-champion, this time in the Japanese Formula 3000. In 1996, Tom expanded his activities outside Japan and competed in the International Formula 3000 Championship where he has finished sixth.
Le Mans victory in the first attempt
In 1997, he continued to race in the International Formula 3000 and it was his last season in Japan. But that year was marked by his debut at Le Mans and his maiden victory at the world's biggest endurance race. At the age of 30, he joined F1 veterans Michele Alboreto and Stefan Johansson in the Joest Racing's TWR Porsche WSC-95 and they won ahead of two McLaren F1 GTRs.
Formula One tests with Minardi, Tyrrell, Williams, and Jaguar
In 1997, Kristensen was for the first time involved in the testing of an F1 car for Minardi. Next year he tested the cars for Minardi and Tyrrell. He also did some test with Williams and Jaguar in the following years, but he had no illusion to find a place in Formula One and remained more focused on touring and sports cars. He spent the season of 1998 driving Honda Accord for JAS Engineering in the German Supertouring Championship, with just one podium in 19 races.
Two Le Mans retirements with BMW
In 1998, he returned to Le Mans with BMW Motorsport's prototype V12 LM, alongside Hans-Joachim Stuck and Steve Soper. They retired after just 60 laps. One more DNF followed at 1999 Le Mans race, with BMW V12 LMR which was shared with JJ Lehto and Jörg Müller. The same crew was much more successful at 12 Hours of Sebring when they won the race.
Moving to Audi marked Tom's career
The season of 1999 was more successful for Tom in the German Supertouring Championship, still with JAS Engineering's Honda Accord. He won three of 19 races and finished third in the final standings.
In 2000, Kristensen made two major changes. In touring car racing, he moved from Germany to the British Touring Car Championship, and in sports car racing he moved from BMW to Audi. The first change wasn't so important as he finished at a poor 7th place in the 2000 BTCC season, driving Honda Accord for the factory team, but nevertheless, this deal with Audi significantly changed his career and his life.
Three Le Mans wins alongside Biela and Pirro
On March 18th, Kristensen partnered Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro in Sebring victory with Audi R8. Three months later, on June 18th, the same trio scored the victory at Le Mans. It was the second Le Mans win for Kristensen and the beginning of the incredible winning streak of six consecutive victories between 2000 and 2005.
Kristensen achieved two more Le Mans victories (2001 and 2002) with Biela and Pirro. As the Le Mans race happens only once a year, for the rest of the year they competed in the American Le Mans Series. Kristensen won the ALMS title in 2002.
Bentley Boys conquering Le Mans
In 2003, Audi factory team officially did not enter the Le Mans race although several private teams used the R8 chassis. Team Bentley, with an Audi engine and support from Audi works team Joest Racing, won its first Le Mans title since 1930. The drivers of the victorious #7 Bentley Speed 8 were Tom Kristensen, Rinaldo Capello, and Guy Smith.
In the same year, Kristensen scored one more win at Le Mans, this time with the Japanese Team Goh in the FIA Sportscar Championship. Together with Seiji Ara he won the 1000-km Le Mans race, driving the Audi R8. Audi Sport Japan Team Goh was Kristensen's team again at 2004 24 Hours of Le Mans race. He shared the Audi R8 with Seiji Ara and Rinaldo Capello to score his sixth victory.
DTM debut in 2004
In 2004, Kristensen debuted in DTM, the touring car series in which he spent next seven seasons, driving Audi A4 for Abt Sportsline team. In his debuting season, Kristensen took one victory (at Oschersleben) and finished fourth in the final standings.
His sixth consecutive Le Mans win, and seventh in total, Kristensen achieved with an American team Champion Racing, driving Audi R8 alongside Marco Werner and JJ Lehto. The same crew conquered Sebring, the third time in Kristensen's career.
Diesel power since 2006
A mew chapter in the history of racing was opened in 2006 when Audi factory team returned to the endurance racing with a diesel-powered prototype and scored first ever Le Mans victory with a diesel car. The winning crew was Biela/Werner/Pirro, Tom Kristensen finished third sharing the car with Rinaldo Capello and Allan McNish.
2007 results better to be forgotten
2007 was the year to forget, after Tom retired at Le Mans, missed the podium at Sebring and finished only 14th in the DTM classification. He had an accident in the season-opening DTM race at Hockenheim and missed the next three round due to injuries. He recovered in time for Le Mans race, but his teammate Capello crashed while leading by four laps.
Two more Le Mans wins together with Allan McNish
He had a victorious return to the top in 2008, with his eighth victory at Le Mans. His co-drivers were Rinaldo Capello and Allan McNish. In the following four years, Mister Le Mans scored three podiums and had one retirement. The 2011 race was marked by horrific crash of Allan McNish.
In 2013, Kristensen and McNish were joined by Loic Duval and the trio won the race with Audi R18 e-tron quattro. It was his ninth and the last win for Kristensen at Circuit de la Sarthe.
World's best endurance driver at the end of career
The season got even better after he won the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship, to finally enrich his career's fantastic score with one world champion title. He spent one more season with the team, scoring four podiums in the championship and finishing second in 2014 Le Mans race. His co-drivers were Lucas di Grassi and Marc Gene.
Kristensen concluded his career after 18 participations at Le Mans 24-hour race, with outstanding nine victories and five more podiums. He announced the retirement in November 2014 at a press conference in Kopenhagen.
Regular ROC competitor since 2001
After the retirement from the championship, Kristensen competed two more times at the Race of Champions, in December 2014 at Barbados, and in November 2015 at London's former Olympic Stadium. Kristensen was the regular ROC competitor since 2001, but he never scored the individual victory. He won the ROC Nations Cup twice, partnered by Mattias Ekstrom in 2005 and together with Petter Solberg in 2014.
For all his achievements, Tom Kristensen was appointed Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog by the Queen of Danemark Margarethe II.
Tom Kristensen - 24 hours of Le Mans results
|Year||Team||Co-drivers||Car||Class||Overall result||Class result|
|1997||Joest Racing||Michele Alboreto, Stefan Johansson||TWR Porsche WSC-95||LMP||1st||1st|
|1998||BMW Motorsport||Hans-Joachim Stuck, Steve Soper||BMW V12 LM||LMP1||DNF||DNF|
|1999||BMW Motorsport||JJ Lehto, Jorg Muller||BMW V12 LMR||LMP||DNF||DNF|
|2000||Audi Sport Team Joest||Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro||Audi R8||LMP900||1st||1st|
|2001||Audi Sport Team Joest||Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro||Audi R8||LMP900||1st||1st|
|2002||Audi Sport Team Joest||Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro||Audi R8||LMP900||1st||1st|
|2003||Team Bentley||Rinaldo Capello, Guy Smith||Bentley Speed 8||LMGTP||1st||1st|
|2004||Audi Sport Japan Team Goh||Seiji Ara, Rinaldo Capello||Audi R8||LMP1||1st||1st|
|2005||ADT Champion Racing||Marco Werner, JJ Lehto||Audi R8||LMP1||1st||1st|
|2006||Audi Sport Team Joest||Allan McNish, Rinaldo Capello||Audi R10 TDI||LMP1||3rd||3rd|
|2007||Audi Sport North America||Allan McNish, Rinaldo Capello||Audi R10 TDI||LMP1||DNF||DNF|
|2008||Audi Sport North America||Allan McNish, Rinaldo Capello||Audi R10 TDI||LMP1||1st||1st|
|2009||Audi Sport Team Joest||Allan McNish, Rinaldo Capello||Audi R15 TDI||LMP1||3rd||3rd|
|2010||Audi Sport Team Joest||Allan McNish, Rinaldo Capello||Audi R15 TDI plus||LMP1||3rd||3rd|
|2011||Audi Sport North America||Allan McNish, Rinaldo Capello||Audi R18 TDI||LMP1||DNF||DNF|
|2012||Audi Sport Team Joest||Allan McNish, Rinaldo Capello||Audi R18 e-tron quattro||LMP1||2nd||2nd|
|2013||Audi Sport Team Joest||Loic Duval, Allan McNish||Audi R18 e-tron quattro||LMP1||1st||1st|
|2014||Audi Sport Team Joest||Marc Gene, Lucas di Grassi||Audi R18 e-tron quattro||LMP1-H||2nd||2nd|