Teammates of fallen Le Mans driver continue on

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Allan Simonsen’s teammates at Aston Martin Racing are continuing their races at the 24 Hours of Le Mans after the 34-year-old Danish driver died following an accident this morning during the first hour of the race.

A short release from the team stated that their three GTE-Pro class and No. 96 GTE-Am class squads would keep racing in tribute to him at the specific request of Simonsen’s family. Simonsen was driving a second GTE-Am machine, the No. 95 Vantage V8 (pictured), when he collided with the ARMCO barriers at the Tertre Rouge corner on his fourth lap of the race.

He later succumbed to his injuries at the Circuit de la Sarthe’s medical center. Simonsen’s death has reverberated throughout the racing world this morning, with Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin mentioning that he was behind the Dane on the track at the time of his fatal accident.

“Dreadful news that Allan Simonsen has passed away,” Gavin said on Twitter. “I was right behind him when he went off at Tetre [sic] Rouge, horrible accident. Just awful.”

Formula One’s Max Chilton has tweeted that he was “truly saddened” about the tragedy, while Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan has called it “tragic news.”

According to Autosport, Simonsen’s death is the first at Le Mans since 1997, when French driver Sebastien Enjolras was killed in a pre-qualifying crash. It is also the first in the race itself since Austria’s Jo Gartner lost his life in an accident on the Mulsanne Straight back in 1986.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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