Sadly this year’s 81st running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be a bittersweet one, because the ACO (Le Mans organizer, standing for the Automobile Club de l’Ouest) and Aston Martin are reporting that a driver of the No. 95 Vantage in GTE-Am, Allan Simonsen, has died from injuries he sustained during an accident on the fourth lap of the race. He was 34-years-old.

Allan Simonsen was a Danish racing driver participating in his seventh year in Le Mans Racing with fellow Danes Christoffer Nygaard and Kristian Poulsen in their No. 95 Aston Martin. Their car has been officially retired from the race.

Simonsen was taken to the hospital immediately following his accident, and was sadly pronounced dead from his injuries soon after arriving.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and all of his teammates as they struggle with this rough time.

The Aston Martin Racing website has been shut down and is currently only showing this message:

Le Mans, 22 June 2013: It is with great shock and sadness that the Aston Martin Racing Team confirms that an accident occurred shortly after the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans at around 15:09 hrs CET today (22 June) when the No 95 Vantage GTE driven by Allan Simonsen left the track at Tertre Rouge.

Tragically, and despite the best efforts of the emergency services in attendance, Allan’s injuries proved fatal.

Aston Martin Racing Managing Director, John Gaw, said: “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.”

Aston Martin Racing will not make any further comment until the precise circumstances of the accident have been determined. Next of kin have been informed.

Following the ACO’s media statement concerning the tragic death of Aston Martin Racing driver Allan Simonsen, and at the specific request of his family, the team will continue to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in tribute to Allan.

A video showing the first 11-minutes of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is below. While you can’t see any more than the accident, viewer discretion is still advised. Fast forward to 9:05 for the start of the accident coverage.

And here is a video from inside the Corvette C6.R pointing straight at the No. 95 Aston Martin GTE-Am car piloted by Allan Simonsen. In it you can see him suddenly lose control without much warning or understanding as to what happened.

While racing has gotten far safer over its history, we are sometimes reminded of the violent nature of a sport that puts people in harm’s way while doing what they love. So it is with a heavy heart we all say goodbye to Mr. Simonsen, we must remember that he died doing what he loved, and he knew the inherent risks of his job/life.

Press release from the ACO:

2013 24 Heures du Mans Official Statement

At 15h09 the No.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.

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.

Allan Simonsen, an experienced driver aged 34, had taken part in seven 24 Heures du Mans.

His team mates in the No.95 car were his fellow countrymen, Christoffer Nygaard and Kristian Poulsen.

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.

[Source: the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, TheRaceBird and Michieliosios via YouTube]