In Aston Martin's centenary year of celebrations, what should be one of the most exciting events for the racing team quickly turned tragic. The #95 Aston Martin Vantage V8 car, driven by Allan Simonsen in the LMGTE AM class, was involved in a high-speed crash on lap two that ended in the death of the 34-year-old driver.
"Following the wishes of Allan's family, the team continued its participation in the race which was obviously very emotional and difficult for everyone. Both the #97 and #99 cars led for long periods of time but, ultimately, it was the changing weather conditions in the last hours that cost us the victory we all longed for. I'd like to thank everyone who has shown us such support over the weekend and sent the messages of condolence to Allan's family," David Richards, Chairman of Aston Martin commented.
Despite the horrific circumstances, Aston Martin and its drivers worked in remembrance of their fallen team member. Out of the four cars (excluding the now retired #95 car) between both the LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am classes, one managed to see a top three position.
Starting in 2nd place, the LMGTE Pro #97 car (driven by Peter Dumbreck, Stefan Mucke, and Darren Turner), given the Gulf livery competition design shared the front row with the #99 car (driven by Rob Bell, Frederic Makowiecki, and Bruno Senna), which qualified on pole. Turner, in the #97, passed Bell, in the #99 car and worked to keep the Porsche at bay into the night.
Unfortunately, as conditions worsened on track, the #99 car, driven by Makowiecki, collided with a barrier giving up the lead while the #97 car continued in 2nd. Worsening conditions and safety cars caused the #97 car to lose the lead and finish in a respectable 3rd while the #99 car finished 11th.
The third LMGTE Pro car, #98 (driven by Bill Auberlen, Paul Dalla Lana, and Pedro Lamy), was dealt a bad hand when technical issues forced the car to retire from the race. And the remaining LMGTE Am car, #96 (driven by Jamie Campbell-Walter, Roald Goethe, and Stuart Hall) had a competitive run through the 24- hours and finished 6th.
The #97 driver Darren Turner said: "It's been an emotional weekend. No one could have ever thought it would start as it did. Our thoughts are with Allan, his family and all the mates he made around the world during his racing career."