Tom Kristensen, the 47-year old Audi driver made the announcement today at a press conference in Copenhagen.
With his decision, the most successful sports car driver in history ends an impressive career, which includes several records, historic triumphs, a big crash and lots of accolade.
“I have reached the finish line. I have grown up. I have been told that you know when it’s time to stop. I have not had that feeling until now. Over the last couple of months, my thoughts of retiring have been stronger and therefore it feels right to inform you today that I am retiring from motor racing. After the last WEC race of the season next week it’s over. That gives me the opportunity to do other things in life going forward.
“For me today is a happy day. I am proud of my career, what I have achieved, and for the memories that I will have forever. I feel privileged to have worked with so many inspiring and talented people. I have driven with the best co-drivers on the best teams in the world. If I could do it all again, I would not change a single decision in my career.
I still feel I am in peak physical form and possess the necessary mental toughness both in and outside of the car. It has been important for me to stop while I am still strong and able to deliver top performances at Audi.
I have chosen to announce my retirement now in order to be able to say a proper goodbye to the sport I love so much at our last race in Sao Paolo in Brazil.
After my accident at Hockenheim in 2007, where the strong chassis saved my life, I have had even bigger focus on training. Over the past years I have felt that staying in peak physical condition and keeping my weight down have required more and more from my body. It is a very competitive and intense sport, which requires complete focus all the time. At the same time, I have had about 250 travel days a year and that naturally means much time away from my family.
After the 2013-season, which was the most successful season of my career, the regulations and the cars in the World Endurance Championship were changed substantially. It has been very motivating for me to play a role in the development of Audis new generation of sports cars, which took a 1-2 victory at Le Mans this year. That has been a main focus of 2014, where I feel I haven’t quite made any mistakes throughout the season. There are several younger drivers at Audi who now deserves to get the chance, just as I got my first chance in endurance racing at Le Mans back in 1997.
After almost 35 years in motorsport, about 25 of them as professional, there are incredibly many people that I owe my thanks. That also goes for my time in go-kart, to Formula 3 in Germany to my fantastic five years in Japan. Motorsport is a team sport. I cannot mention them all here today, but I can say a big and loud thank you to all the fans, who have supported me throughout my career at Le Mans and around the world. I have been incredibly proud and emotional every time I have seen a Danish flag sway in the wind, listen to crowd and felt the support. There is no better feeling for an athlete. For that I would like to say Thank You.”