The Dane born in 1967, who has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans nine times (six consecutive), talks about the favorites of the 2021 endurance race: “Toyota is the house to beat, but nothing is taken for granted and every mistake is paid dearly. Ferrari and Porsche pay attention to Corvettes “
With nine victories in the most famous 24 Hours in the world, the Dane Tom Kristensen is considered the “Lord of Le Mans”. Born in 1967, protagonist of the world championship with his first success in 1997 at the wheel of Porsche, the last in 2013 with Audi (in the middle also the victory with Bentley colors, in 2003), Kristensen remained in the circus of the Wec with the role of TV commentator for Eurosport and Discovery +. On the Thursday preceding the 89th 24 Hours of Le Mans we interviewed him doing the “cards” at the endurance race where nothing seems to be taken for granted.
HYPERCAR: KRISTENSEN’S PRONOSTIC
“The new Hypercar class has already aroused great interest in several manufacturers who have expressed their intention to enter the WEC, also taking advantage of the LmdH which allow with the same chassis to compete in Le Mans and in America between Daytona and Sebring. – explains Tom Kristensen – Toyota? For several years he has gained experience and today he has assumed this role of supremacy, exploiting the experience acquired with hybrid prototypes. But be careful: nothing is taken for granted for Toyota, neither at Le Mans nor in the world championship ”.
Great experience in endurance
The former Danish driver, with a past also as a test driver in Formula 1 (Minardi, Tyrrell, Williams, Jaguar), shifts the focus to the competition in the main class of Wec 2021: “Glickenhaus has built two excellent Hypercars and created two superlative crews , they are already very competitive also in terms of speed, – he continues – and the Alpine prototypes adapted for the category add a further dose of pressure. Without forgetting that between Hypercar and Lmp2 the seconds of difference in the lap are small. This is why Toyota and all its rivals must be careful: at Le Mans all it takes is a mistake, a problem, and the race can have a very open forecast ”.
LE MANS 2021: THE FERRARI-PORSCHE FIGHT
According to Tom Kristensen’s forecasts, therefore, anything can happen at the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans. And this year the brawl is assured, even among the Gran Turismo class Lmgte Pro where the challenge between Ferrari (ahead in the Constructors standings) and Porsche is played on the edge of tenths of a second. “Very true, it is a real challenge between the two manufacturers, – he replies – plus the new Corvette C8 Rs have arrived here at Le Mans, which in my opinion are really strong. And then it must be said that, for everyone, the BoP (Balance of Performance, Ed) play a role. It’s hard to predict who will win, I don’t know who to bet on frankly ”.
THE SECRETS TO WIN
The experience of nine successes at Le Mans (“The most beautiful car I ever drove? The Bentley Speed 8, LM Gtp class, the most elegant sports car ever”) allows Tom Kristensen to expose himself on the necessary “ingredients” to get the best of the Sarthe circuit. “The first thing necessary is self-awareness – explains the Dane – because drivers put under pressure, who may not feel fast enough, run the risk of making mistakes more easily. And in this aspect the role of the team takes over, which can give you a hand. And then we need the collaboration between the three pilots of the crew, who have to share information from Wednesday to Sunday ”.
LE MANS: BARBECUE AND FLAGS
Meanwhile, the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2021 marks the return of the public to the stands (in 2020 the races were “closed”), albeit to a lesser extent. A curiosity arises spontaneously: a pilot, during the race, feels the “heat” of the fans on the stands? “Absolutely yes – replies Kristensen – and I tell you more: when you drive at night, in the slower parts of the Sarthe, you can savor the flavor of meat cooked on the barbecue, you see very well the flags on display and you recognize the gestures of the public. Le Mans is not only the most important race in the world, it is also a motorsport festival. This year there are a few people in the stands: they are not crowded together like sardines, as happened before the pandemic, but you can see in the eyes of many people the happiness of being back on the track ”.
2023: THE CENTENARY EDITION
Looking to the bright future of the WEC Endurance World Championship thanks to the introduction of the new Hypercars, four-wheel drive, and rear-wheel drive LmdH prototypes (the latter will arrive from 2023), Tom Kristensen says: “I see a period of more opportunities coming to starting with the possible containment of costs, which will see the entry into the main class of already confirmed manufacturers such as Ferrari, Porsche and Audi, and other possible ones, for example Lamborghini. The centenary Le Mans in 2023 will be memorable in my opinion ”.
August 20, 2021 (change August 20, 2021 | 15:10)
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