Aston Martin driver Allan Simonsen has succumbed to injuries sustained in a fourth-lap crash at this year's 24 hours of Le Mans. The sports car specialist was competing at the iconic endurance race for the seventh time.
Race organizers at Le Mans said in a statement on Saturday, roughly four hours into the round-the-clock race, that Allan Simonsen succumbed to his injuries at the circuit's medical center.
Simonsen, driving the opening stint in the No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage in the GT2 class, had spun and crashed heavily into the barriers on the fourth lap of the race.
"In a serious condition, Allan Simonsen was transferred immediately to the Circuit Medical Centre where he died soon after due to his injuries," Le Mans organizers The Automobile Club de l'Ouest said in a statement. "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."
Stormy summer weather had provided a tricky start to this year's Le Mans race. The exact reasons for Simonsen's accident were not immediately clear.
The 34-year-old Dane was racing in his seventh 24 hours of Le Mans race and his second with the Aston Martin outfit. The race at Le Mans will finish on Sunday afternoon. Just over five hours after the green light on Saturday afternoon, heavy favorites for the fastest prototype class Audi were running first, second and third - stretching their lead to the chasing Toyotas.
Dark day on top endurance tracks
In Germany on Saturday, the local VLN endurance racing series at the old Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit called its third event of the season short when a driver died on track. Authorities waved red flags roughly an hour into the four hour race, calling all drivers back to the pits.
Wolf Silvester, a 55-year-old driving for Team Bonk Motorsport, crashed late in the lap at the "Anfahrt Schwalbenschwanz" section of the track before the legendary Döttinger Höhe straight. The race organizers said that his car was behaving erratically before the incident and that Silvester was motionless after the impact. Though unconfirmed, it was suspected that Silvester might have suffered a heart attack or similar sudden health problem at the wheel.
msh/jm (AFP, dpa, Reuters, SID)