Nine-time Le Mans winner Kristensen to retire

Wed Nov 19, 2014 9:44am EST
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COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Tom Kristensen, the most successful driver in the Le Mans 24-hour race, has decided to quit the sport and give up his quest for a record-extending 10th victory.

Kristensen said earlier this year he was still motivated by the prospect of winning a 10th Le Mans title but he has now decided to hang up his driving gloves.

"I feel that I have crossed the finish line," the Dane told a media conference. "I had been told that I would know when the time comes.

"I did not know it until now, but in recent months the feeling got even stronger, and it has become so strong that I can feel that the time is now," said the 47-year-old.

Born in the Danish town of Hobro, Kristensen began racing in karts and went on to drive competitively in Formula 3, Formula 3000 and in Touring Cars.

However, it was at Le Mans that he wrote his name in the history books, beginning with his first victory in 1997.

He went on to notch a further eight wins at the classic race, including six in a row from 2000, with his last victory coming last year.

His final Le Mans race ended in disappointment when he and co-drivers Marc Gene and Lucas di Grassi came second this year.

(Reporting By Philip O'Connor in Stockholm; Editing by Ken Ferris)

Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro Number 2 driver Tom Kristensen of Denmark celebrates on the podium after winning the Le Mans 24-hour sportscar race in Le Mans, central France June 23, 2013. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe