Danish racing driver Allan Simonsen was killed at the 81st 24 Hours of Le Mans today, after his No. 95 Aston Martin spun off the track. He was 34, and this was his seventh time participating in the race.
The Automobile Club de l'Ouest, which organizes the 24 Hours of Le Mans, released the following statement:
The driver was immediately attended on the scene by the doctors from the Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s Medical Service.
In a serious condition, Allan Simonsen was transferred immediately to the Circuit Medical Centre where he died soon after due to his injuries.
Allan Simonsen’s family has been informed immediately by David Richards, Principal of the Aston Martin Racing team.
Allan Simonsen, an experienced driver aged 34, had taken part in seven 24 Heures du Mans.
His team mates in the No.95 car were his fellow countrymen, Christoffer Nygaard and Kristian Poulsen.
The Automobile Club de l’Ouest wishes to express its great sadness following this incident, and extends its deepest condolences to the family and those close to Allan Simonsen.
The Automobile Club de l’Ouest will make no further statement while the exact reasons for the accident are still being wholly determined.
It was originally reported that Simonsen was conscious upon being extricated from the vehicle. It's not immediately clear what caused the Dane from going off the track, though onboard footage from the car behind his appears to show no contact coming from another car. A warning to those who are sensitive or squeamish, this video does not show the actual impact, though it does show the beginning of a crash that would ultimately claim the driver's life:
It has been 16 years since the last fatality at Le Mans, when Sébastien Enjolras was killed in practice for the 1997 race in his Peugeot.
UPDATE: Aston Martin has completely blacked out its website, save for the following statement:
Le Mans, 22 June 2013: It is with great shock and sadness that the Aston Martin Racing Team confirms that an accident occurred shortly after the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans at around 15:09 hrs CET today (22 June) when the No 95 Vantage GTE driven by Allan Simonsen left the track at Tertre Rouge.
Tragically, and despite the best efforts of the emergency services in attendance, Allan’s injuries proved fatal.
Aston Martin Racing Managing Director, John Gaw, said: “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.”
Aston Martin Racing will not make any further comment until the precise circumstances of the accident have been determined. Next of kin have been informed.
Following the ACO’s media statement concerning the tragic death of Aston Martin Racing driver Allan Simonsen, and at the specific request of his family, the team will continue to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in tribute to Allan.
More info as we have it.
Image credit: Getty Images/Aston Martin