Nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kristensen has admitted to shock when he learned that long-time Audi teammate Allan McNish was hanging up his helmet.
Kristensen, who was one of the first people to know of the decision that McNish set in stone last Thursday, said: “We are close to each other, but I didn’t expect him to pull the trigger in the way he has done.
“I thought he might scale it down first, so I was definitely shocked when he gave me the call. I was very emotional, because when you share a car you also share a lot of emotions.”
The Dane, who is two years McNish’s senior, also admitted to disappointment after “such a good year in 2013” during which he, McNish and Loic Duval won the World Endurance Championship and Le Mans.
Kristensen paid tribute to McNish and said he was proud to have driven with him for so long.
“We should celebrate a long and great career for the little Scottish terrier, who always gave total commitment whenever he got in the car. He is a class act, a team player and now a world champion.”
Kristensen revealed that the idea of he and McNish driving together was first raised by their respective fathers, Carl-Erik and Bert. The suggestion followed their thrilling battle in the closing stages of the 2005 Sebring 12 Hours in a pair of Champion Racing Audi R8s.
“Our dads said would it be good if you drove the same car and [Audi Sport boss] Wolfgang Ullrich made it happen,” he explained. “We’d both driven with Dindo [Rinaldo Capello] before, so it made for a perfect fit just as Audi came back with the turbodiesel and a factory team for 2006.”