Tom Kristensen has hit out at BMW star Andy Priaulx after he accused the triple World Touring Car Champion's inattentive driving of forcing him off the road early on in the 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours – admitting that he had expected more from such a 'good and professional' driver.
Just under four-and-a-half hours into the iconic round-the-clock classic, Kristensen – then running fourth, and first amongst the Audi trio – came upon the GT2 class BMW M3 'Art Car' driven by Priaulx, who was returning slowly back to the pit-lane with a puncture.
In what appeared to be a misunderstanding, the Dane – nicknamed 'Mr. Le Mans' for his extraordinary, record-breaking success at la Sarthe – went to the outside in the Porsche Curves, only to find the BMW do the same thing and, in his efforts to avoid running into the back of Priaulx, he spun backwards into the gravel and into the tyres.
By the time he had been extricated again by the marshals and had returned to the pits for swift repair work to be carried out to the R15 Plus TDi, Kristensen and driving partners Allan McNish and Rinaldo 'Dindo' Capello had gone two further laps down and fallen back to seventh place – and arguably renounced the admittedly already slim hope they had of regaining the crown. Afterwards, the 42-year-old made his displeasure known.
“Travelling from Arnage going down to the Porsche Curves, everything was good,” Kristensen related. “I had no cars in front of me. Immediately after the kink I could see white flags, and there was a car going slowly on the right-hand side. Initially I thought, 'okay, I will lose some time through Porsche', so when I braked going into the corner I went to the outside of him to take some speed off, and then I don't think he saw me because he decided to change his line from the inside and crossed the track.
“I had no chance to commit myself to going underneath him. I braked to prevent a big crash into the back of him, because he was coming across. I had to alter my steering to go [even] more on the outside of him, and in the end I couldn't prevent myself going off.
“I tried to scrub the speed so as not to go in very hard, and I sort of slid sideways. Unfortunately, I got stuck in the gravel, but the car was not very heavily-damaged, just at the rear. After some time the marshals got me out and I could drive the car back to the pits and explain over the radio how much damage there was, and the mechanics again did a splendid job.
“It's Le Mans, so you should always expect the unexpected – and in a way I guess you could say I didn't expect that enough, but when there's a BMW driving with three very good and professional drivers, I would expect them to see me and not change the racing line when I'm coming [behind] with a lot more speed. In that sense, I'm very disappointed for Audi and disappointed for the team and my colleagues.”