Tragedy struck today at the Le Mans 24 hour race, as driver Allan Simonsen died after a high speed collision. The death was the first at the endurance event since 1997.
It didn’t take long for the gruesome collision to occur, happening just ten minutes after Simonsen started his day at the track. He was taken to an area hospital shortly after being removed from his vehicle, where later was pronounced dead.
The tragic accident occurred as Allan Simonsen and his number 95 Aston Martin spun out as he entered the Tetra Rouge corner. At this point in the track, drivers are typically moving at a speed of roughly 105 miles per hour (170 Kph.) He lost control, spun out, and skidded into the barrier.
Race officials at the hospital stated that his death was “due to his injuries.”
The last death to occur during the most famous endurance race in the world occurred back in 1997 when Sebastien Enjolras died as a result of an accident suffered during a pre-qualifying event.
If you wanted to know the last death that happened during the actual Le Mans 24 race itself, you would have to go back to 1986 when Jo Gartner lost his life at the track. The worst accident to ever strike the track was in 1955 when a Mercedes driven by Pierre Levegh went over the barrier and into the crowd, killing 80 spectators.
Entering his seventh Le Mans, Allan Simonsen was one of the most experienced drivers on the track today, and at just 34 years old figured to have a long racing career ahead of him. He was just four laps into his part of the race when he lost control of his Aston Martin.
He was competing in the GTE-Am class, Aston Martin had five vehicles competing in that class including Simonsen’s vehicle.
Treated immediately after the collision with the barrier, Simonsen’s injuries were too severe to overcome, and the tragedy is now the center of the sporting world, not just the endurance racing world that typically tunes into Le Mans.
A statement from race officials acknowledged the incident and the tragedy around it. “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.”
Allan Simonsen, along with his two teammates, had come into the race hoping to capture a second endurance title this year. They had previously won World Endurance Championship at Silverstone, the event that opened the endurance season.
Condolences go out to Allan Simonsen’s family and friends, along with the entire racing community. This tragic event saddens us all, the world will truly miss Allan Simonsen.
You can watch a video of the tragic accident at Le Mans that resulted in Allan Simonsen’s death below.
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Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express