We are saddened to report that the fabled Le Mans 24 Hour race suffered its first race fatality in 27 years on Saturday when Danish driver Allan Simonsen crashed his Aston Martin only minutes into the sportscar classic at the La Sarthe circuit, prompting tributes from F1 drivers.
Simonsen had told reporters on Friday that he was looking forward to the race with great anticipation.
“Just being at Le Mans and to be allowed to drive the car on the track is incredibly special,” he said. “It’s the biggest race for us. It’s the one we most look forward to. It’s also difficult because there are so many excellent drivers from all over the world – it’s a huge challenge.”
Jenson Button tweeted: “Allan Simonsen R.I.P. such a tragic loss. A true fighter and a true racer. Safety is something we need to improve on in motorsport.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “R.I.P. Allan Simonsen. Sad news.”
Sergio Perez: “Thoughts & prayers with Allan Simonsen’ family and @AMR_Official team.”Que lastima!! La dura vida de piloto , Murio haciendo lo que quería.”
Felipe Massa: “Such a tragic news on the passing of @AllanSimonsen. Sad day in motorsport. Thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Paul Di Resta: “Sad news at Le Mans, RIP Allan Simonsen. Thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Force India: Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and team of Allan Simonsen. Really sad news from Le Mans earlier today.
Jaime Alguersuari: “Rest in peace Allan Simonsen.”
The death cast a pall over a race celebrating its 90th anniversary, and its 81st running, but the team vowed to carry on in tribute to the 34-year-old, at the request of his family.
Jean Todt, president of the International Automobile Federation (FIA), and organisers expressed their “profound sadness” after the experienced Dane was pronounced dead at the circuit medical centre.
The most recent fatality connected with the race was Frenchman Sebastien Enjolras, killed during pre-qualifying in 1997, but the last driver to die during the race was Austrian Jo Gartner in 1986.
After the accident, the following 58 minutes were led by the safety car as repairs were carried out to the barriers at Tertre Rouge until green flags signalled a return to racing on a glistening track dampened by showers.
Jean Todt, FIA President and Pierre Fillon, ACO President released a joint statement: “We wish to express our profound sadness regarding the death of Allan Simonsen at today’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. We would like to convey our deepest and heartfelt sympathies to Allan`s family and friends. Our thoughts are also with his Aston Martin teammates at this difficult time.”