“I never came across such a car.” > Audi Sport > Audi Ireland

“I never came across such a car.”

The Goodwood Festival of Speed is one of the biggest and most dazzling motor sport events in the world. This year, also as a tribute to the late Ken Block, the Audi S1 Hoonitron, with Tom Kristensen at the wheel, was the centre of attention.

Text: AUDI AG - Photo: Patrick Runte Reading time: 5 min

The Audi S1 Hoonitron in front of Goodwood House.The Audi S1 Hoonitron in front of Goodwood House.

Mr Kristensen, for starters: what makes the Festival of Speed so special, so iconic?
Goodwood is not only about cars or technology, it’s about the people who love cars. It’s the human element I can feel at Goodwood. This is, of course, ensured by Charles.

You mean His Grace Charles Richmond, The Duke of Richmond, the organiser of the Festival.
Yes. When I first met him, I became an instant fan and have been for many years now. The entire event has evolved through him and the people he has attracted. In a way, this is one of my homes away from home.

So you’re a frequent visitor here in the southern part of England?
I’m here several times a year, for the different motor sport events that take place here. I think this place is unique. They have their horses, the revival and they even have “Goodwoof”, a dog festival here. Motor sport has always been a part of the family heritage here at Goodwood House.

Tom walks across the festival area.Tom walks across the festival area.
On the door of the Hoonitron, you can read the name Ken Block.On the door of the Hoonitron, you can read the name Ken Block.

I’m obviously very privileged that Audi asked me to drive the Audi S1 Hoonitron at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Tom Kristensen

Audi brought, among other vehicles, the Audi S1 Hoonitron to Goodwood. The vast majority of visitors will never have seen it performing before. How would you describe the car?
The car is very much inspired by the universe of drifting, particularly with the input from Ken Block. I believe it’s probably the most powerful all-electric drifting car. It was also influenced by the Audi Sport quattro S1 rally car, the famous Pikes Peak model. To me, it is virtually a futuristic electrified version of it.

You took it up the legendary Hillclimb. How does it drive?
Obviously, it’s very agile, has high torque, and incredibly peaky right from the start. You have a very efficient handbrake to turn the car, and soft suspension to absorb all the bumps and jumps. In that sense, it’s certainly a very ‘mean’ machine (he says with a smile), and that’s really cool to experience. It was supposed to be Ken’s car and he was involved in the development. I’m obviously very, very privileged that Audi asked me to drive it at the Festival of Speed.

What do you find most impressive about the car?
With just a flick of your finger, you can switch from all-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive. And when you flick it a bit more, you can have a huge amount of electric power taking you backwards very fast. It was very spooky doing that the first time. But clearly, the most impressive feature is the instant acceleration. The gigantic initial torque when you use the four-wheel drive. I never came across such a car during my career.

 

You saw it in Las Vegas for the first time, when you made a cameo appearance in the Elektrikhana film starring Ken Block and the Audi S1 Hoonitron. What was that like?
First of all, I didn’t know what a cameo appearance was, so I had to ask my son about it. I came to Las Vegas and arrived at the set shortly after midnight, as we were filming at night. I had met Ken a few times, even here at Goodwood, so we knew each other, but up until then I had only seen pictures and plans of the Hoonitron.

How do you remember that night?
We had lunch together in a car park behind the strip. We were talking about the car, about everything, really, like his daughter and how well she’s doing at rallycross, a bit about Le Mans and the cars we were driving. He also talked about how he went to see Audi Tradition in Ingolstadt and had a look at the old racing cars. After that, it was around 4.30 a.m., we were filming at the famous Tropicana-Las Vegas Boulevard intersection, which, apparently, is one of the biggest crossings in America. But it was just me and Ken, coming from all sorts of directions or angles. That was great fun. We had a great night out there in Vegas.

The Audi S1 Hoonitron racing.The Audi S1 Hoonitron racing.

Apart from driving the S1 Hoonitron, you were also in Goodwood to celebrate Audi’s history at Le Mans. How did that feel in the Goodwood context?
It’s fantastic to be at Goodwood to celebrate a Le Mans centenary. Le Mans and Audi have an outstanding history. What Audi has achieved there with its cars – from the Audi R8 LMP1 and the Audi R10 TDI to the Audi R18 e-tron quattro – is just amazing. I’ve driven all these models. It was great for me to drive the first winning Le Mans car for Audi from the year 2000 up Goodwood Hill again. It always gives me goosebumps and I enjoy just sitting in it. I even love the waiting time down at the start line. There are only a few cars I just like to sit in. The Audi R8 LMP1 is one of them.

What did the Le Mans motor sport era mean to you personally?
I have been blessed, proud and happy to race through a time where I loved every minute of it, and I truly lived in the present. I think that’s what you do as a racing driver. You learn to be alert. You learn to live in the here and now, or at least until the next braking point and corner. This was a heck of a life. The most adrenaline, the most energy, the most passion I’ve ever had.

Tom Kristensen jumps into the cockpit of an Audi R8 LMP1.Tom Kristensen jumps into the cockpit of an Audi R8 LMP1.
Several Audi racing cars.Several Audi racing cars.

From history to its future: where are motor sport and mobility heading?
I always take a positive attitude. The whole automotive industry as well as motor sport is transforming and heading in a new, more sustainable direction. And it is certainly in the Audi creative DNA to find new paths and ideas. At the same time, there is no better place for fast developments and optimisation than in motor sport. As a racing driver, I’m open to different technologies and approaches – and I’m currently seeing some exciting developments in the field of mobility. And here at Goodwood, you’ll always get to see some of them up close.

 Audi S1 Hoonitron
 
The S1 Hoonitron racing

Electrifying motor sport

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