Aston Martin Racing's Allan Simonsen has died following an accident in the early stages of the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Simonsen had started from pole in the GTE-Am class at the wheel of the #95 Vantage but was involved in a heavy accident at Tertre Rouge on just the fourth lap of the race.
The incident led to the race going behind the Safety Car for a lengthy period, firstly as Simonsen was attended to by medics and then as extensive damage to the barriers was repaired.
Having been removed from the damaged car, Simonsen was taken to the circuit's medical centre for treatment before sadly succumbing to his injuries.
At the specific request of Simonsen's family, the team will continue to participate in the race in tribute to the 34-year-old.
“At 15h09 the #95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE, driven by Allan Simonsen of Denmark, exited the track at high speed at the Tertre Rouge corner on his fourth lap of the race,” a statement from the ACO read. “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.
“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.”
Simonsen, who was competing at Le Mans for the seventh time, had twice finished on the podium in the GT2 class, taking third on his debut in a Porsche 997 back in 2007 and then being part of the Hankook Team Farnbacher line-up that clinched second in class n 2010.
He was regarded as one of the sport's leading GT drivers and had enjoyed success in a range of championships around the world.
This season alone, Simonsen was competing with Aston Martin in the full World Endurance Championship alongside programmes in the British GT Championship and ADAC GT Masters, while he had already competed in both the Bathurst 12 Hours and the Nurburgring 24 Hours. He was due to compete in the V8 Supercar Championship endurance events later in the season.
extends its deepest sympathies to Allan's family and friends.