Eight-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kristensen has praised the FIA and Automobile Club de 'Ouest's creation of the new FIA World Endurance Championship, which will begin in 2012.
The Dane, arguably sports car racing's most successful driver, believes that by effectively re-purposing the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup into world status is likely to tempt more manufacturers in to prototype racing in the future.
"It is the right direction for the ACO to go and, in general, if we can combine the best race in the world, with a world championship over a season, then that is fantastic," Kristensen told AUTOSPORT. "It is great that it has come along because it means that what we have done over these last years has been really good. It is going to attract even more manufacturers to go in and do a similar effort such as Peugeot and Audi have done."
Remarkably, in spite of his record, Kristensen, who is now 43, has never competed in a world championship auto racing category. Although he welcomed the opportunity to try an add a world title to his CV, he said he doesn't find himself wishing prototypes had been recognized at world level sooner.
"No," he said. "I just think it is good that is here. The jewel of the crown will always be Le Mans, but still I guess there will be more points awarded for winning Le Mans, so to win both would obviously be a fantastic achievement and would require the best effort from any team and driver."
He added: "There are a lot of fantastic fans around Le Mans, and what Le Mans has created over its history...it now means something for the whole year. You'll have a more important championship, but still again if you ask anyone in cycling, for example, if they want to be world champion or win the Tour de France, you know what they will say.
"On the other hand, Le Mans will now be in the championship and that is what is unique about it. That's why I think it supports everything well in that sense. So for the FIA, for Jean Todt and the people who have pushed it through, it is a big thumbs-up."