Everyone involved in racing knows the risks taken by drivers, crew members. Even the media and spectators are reminded of the dangers. But today, the racing family has lost a brother.
Only minutes into the 81st running of the annual 24 Hours race, near the beginning of the fourth circuit, Allan Simonsen lost control of his Aston Martin Racing machine at the Tetre Rouge corner and made heavy front end contact with the armco barrier.
His car came to rest, and it was quickly apparent to track workers that the 34 year old from Denmark was in trouble.
He was quickly brought to the care centre at the Circuit de la Sarthe where he succumbed to injuries sustained in the crash.
Simonsen got his start in auto racing in 1999, and had won the Danish Formula Ford Championship, the Australian GT championship and took part in the Asian Le Mans Series.
This year, he shared his #95 Aston Martin car with countrymen Christoffer Nygaard and Kristian Poulsen for the 24-hour event, and was considered a front runner for a podium spot.
Straying from tradition in Le Mans, the Aston Martin marque, who are fielding five teams across the GTE Pro and Am categories have stated they will remain in the race, with full intentions of leading the entire event and winning the race in memory of Simonsen. The team contacted the family and chartered a plane home for them, after they gave consent to continue the race in his honour.
Fans were shocked at the track, as the race has seen its fair share of major accidents, like that of Alan McNish in 2011 or Anthony Davidson last year, allowed drivers to walk away reasonably unharmed.
"The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) wishes to express its great sadness following this incident, and extends its deepest condolences to the family and those close to Allan Simonsen," said the ACO in a statement.
The Young Drivers Aston Martin Racing team owner Jan Struve said the following in a statement later in the day.
“Young Driver AMR received on Saturday afternoon with great sadness the news that our highly regarded and respected driver Allan Simonsen fell victim of a tragic accident during the 24 hours of Le Mans. During these difficult hours, all my thoughts and concerns are for Allan Simonsens´ girlfriend, young daughter and family.“
In respect of the tragic death of Allan Simonsen, Jan Struve will not comment on the future of the Danish racing team, Young Driver AMR, at this moment in time.