Tom Kristensen leads tributes to Allan Simonsen after Le Mans tragedy


Tom Kristensen leads tributes to Allan Simonsen after Le Mans tragedy

Audi's Tom Kristensen paid an emotional tribute to Allan Simonsen after the Aston Martin driver was killed during the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Kristensen, Allan McNish and Loic Duval had just taken the chequered flag to claim the German marque's 12th win at the 24 Hours where celebrations were muted after the event's first fatality since 1997.

Drivers paid their respects on the podium, in particular the Aston Martin GT Pro trio of Peter Dumbreck, Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke, who held a Danish flag in memory of their fallen colleague. They dedicated their third place in class to Simonsen.

Kristensen, who now has nine Le Mans victories to his name, said this latest win was "a dream come true" but also dedicated his success to the popular driver.

"I think Le Mans is personal. I am pleased and humble to work for the best team in the world," he said.

"It is a dream come true but we lost somebody yesterday who had the same dream, so I have mixed feelings."

Kristensen revealed he would have dedicated this win – his first since 2008 – to his father who die in March but events changed that.

"I hope I can win another with these guys so I can dedicate it to my Dad but this one is for Allan Simonsen."

Tom Kristensen leads tributes to Allan Simonsen after Le Mans tragedy

McNish and Duval echoed their team-mate's words while Toyota driver Anthony Davidson, who finished second overall alongside Sebastien Buemi and Stephane Sarrazin and who suffered a serious crash himself in the 2012 race, described his emotions once the tragedy became evident.

"The most difficult was once he'd heard the news about Allan. We all remember what happened to me last year; it's very difficult to carry on."

Simonsen was leading the GT AM class in his Vantage GTE which he had put on pole position when he skewed off the track at Tertre Rouge less than 10 minutes into the race.

The Aston Martin crashed heavily into the barriers and then bounced back onto the track. The race was immediately run under caution while the Dane was taken from the car to the circuit's medical centre in an ambulance.

The caution period ran for 50 minutes while the marshals repaired the barriers. There was no news on Simonsen's condition until the race organisers, the Automobile Club De L'Ouest (ACO) made an official statement soon after 6pm, confirming the fatality.