Driver Allan Simonsen Dead In First Le Mans Crash Since 1997 [Video]

Allan Simonsen

Danish driver Allan Simonsen has died today as a result of injuries he received in a crash during the 24 Hours of Le Mans high-speed endurance racing event.

His Aston Martin No. 95 skidded and spun at high speed into a barrier at the Tertre Rouge corner. According to ESPN Racing, the cars often reach a speed here of up to 105 miles per hour.

Although Allan Simonsen was alive after the crash and rushed to the hospital, the 34-year-old ultimately died of his injuries.

The highly experienced Simonsen was competing for the seventh time in the Le Mans 24-hour race. His teammates were Christoffer Nygaard and Kristian Poulsen.

The guard rail was repaired before the race continued, a process that took about an hour.

Before the crash, Simonsen’s team was a favorite. He started from the pole position in the GTE AM class, according to Autosports. ESPN said that he had the fastest qualifying time in his class on Thursday.

The cause of the crash isn’t yet known.

Despite the high-speeds, fatal crashes are rare at Le Mans. USA Today said that a driver last died in 1997, during a pre-qualifying race. A driver last died during the event itself in a 1986 crash.

However, the terrible 1959 Le Mans crash took the lives of 80 fans when driver Pierre Levegh’s Mercedes spun into the crowd.

Right now, the cause of the crash isn’t known. The race organizers Automobile Club de l’Ouest said that they wouldn’t speculate but would instead reserve comment until they had determined the actual reason that Allan Simonsen crashed.

It’s the specific request of Allan Simonsen’s family that the Le Mans race he loved continue.

[2011 Le Mans team photo with Allan Simonsen in the center by Dave Hamster via Flickr and Creative Commons]