Danish driver dies in Le Mans crash
Danish driver Allan Simonsen, racing for Britain's Aston Martin, died today in an accident during the early stages of the 90th anniversary running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Simonsen was the first fatality during the renowned endurance race for 27 years. He was 34.
Simonsen had qualified on pole in his class, the GTE Am category of race-prepared road cars, and was expected to finish strongly. After nine minutes of racing and on the fourth lap, his Aston Martin came off the track at high speed at the Tertre Rouge corner. Witnesses reported that Simonsen was approaching the corner and slowed to avoid a decelerating Ferrari before leaving the track and hitting the crash barriers. The race was immediately yellow-flagged and safety cars deployed.
Simonsen was treated at the scene of by staff from race organizers Automobile Club de l'Ouest's medical service who transferred him to the Circuit Medical Center where he died.
Media reports said he was conscious and talking to doctors immediately following the accident.
Aston Martin Racing head John Gaw said in a statement: "On behalf of all of us at Aston Martin Racing, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the individuals, and families whose friends or loved ones were involved in today's terrible tragedy."
Simonsen had taken part in seven Le Mans 24 Hours races.
His co-drivers were fellow Danes Christoffer Nygaard and Kristian Poulsen.
Automobile Club de l'Ouest said in a staement that no further information will be released "while the exact reasons for the accident are still being determined".
Simonsen's family was informed of his death by Aston Martin. The team said it would continue racing with the family's consent.
A statement from the team read: "At the specific request of his family, the team will continue to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in tribute to Allan."