Danish driver Allan Simonsen has died after crashing at the Le Mans 24 Hours in France on Saturday, the first fatality during the famous race for 27 years.
Race organizers said the 34-year-old Simonsen was taken to the hospital after his Aston Martin No. 95 crashed about 10 minutes into the race. The Dane spun at high speed and his car skidded into the barrier at the Tertre Rouge corner where cars typically reach speeds of up to 170 kph (105 mph).
Simonsen died at the hospital soon after arrival “due to his injuries,” organizers said.
Sebastien Enjolras lost his life in pre-qualifying in 1997. The last driver fatality in the 24-hour race was Jo Gartner in 1986.
The worst crash in Le Mans history occurred in 1955 when Pierre Levegh’s Mercedes flew into the crowd, killing more than 80 spectators.
Aston Martin Racing, which had entered five Vantage V8 cars between the GTE-Pro and GTE-Am classes, will continue in the race at the request of Simonsen’s family.
The safety car came out after Simonsen’s crash and the race was held up for nearly an hour to repair the guard rail.
Aston Martin team chief David Richards informed his family, who said they wanted the team to carry on in the event in tribute to Simonsen.
Aston Martin Racing Managing Director John Gaw added in a statement: “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.”
Simonsen had taken part in seven Le Mans 24 Hours events.
His co-drivers in the car, numbered 95, were compatriots Christoffer Nygaard and Kristian Poulsen.
Another driver death occurred Saturday in Germany. Two-time champion Wolf Silvester died because of “health problems” during the German VLN Endurance Racing Championship, race organizers said.