Allan Simonsen dies from accident at Le Mans

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The Automobile Club de l’Ouest has confirmed the passing of driver Allan Simonsen, who had an accident in the first hour of this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Dane was 34.

Reports were mixed in the immediate aftermath of his accident at Terte Rouge, where his No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage contacted the Armco barriers. It took more than one hour to repair the barriers at the high speed kink.

The ACO, race organizers, released an official statement on its website which reads:

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.

Aston Martin has also released an official statement following the accident. It reads:

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.

Sebastien Ogier in driver’s seat for sixth straight World Rally Championship title

Sebastien Ogier leads the way in the WRC title chase. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) — Thierry Neuville finished the sixth stage of Rally Australia on Friday without a rear left tire, damaging his chances of catching five-time defending champion Sebastien Ogier for the World Rally Championship title.

The Belgian driver entered the rally just three points behind Ogier in the closest title fight in 15 years.

He held the upper hand on his French rival, building a near-10 second gap through the first five stages at Coffs Harbour before hitting a chicane and finishing the stage with only three tires on his Hyundai.

Neuville was fortunate the puncture occurred late enough in the day to finish all six forestry stages and avoid a retirement. But the mistake cost him 40 seconds and gave Ogier, who is 33 seconds ahead of him, a clear run at his sixth straight championship.

In his last start with Ford before a move to Citroen next year, Ogier struggled as the first to drive the dusty, slippery forest routes.

“I pushed like crazy, I was on the limit over the jump and everywhere, I can’t do (any) more,” Ogier said. “I was on the limit.”

With Ogier on sweeping duties the back markers flourished, and Mads Ostberg took the lead in his return to the series.

Ostberg was forced to miss the previous round in Spain to make way for rally winner and nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, who was making the last of his three guest appearances for Citroen.

Now back in the seat, Ostberg leads Jari-Matti Latvala by 6.8 seconds in the Australian rally, with sixth-stage winner Craig Breen in third.

Ogier was seventh, 38.2 seconds off the pace, but only needs to finish ahead of Neuville to claim the championship title. Neuville is in 10th place after six stages.

Roles will reverse on Saturday, with Ogier to start further back in the field and do his best on cleaner roads to make up the day-one deficit before Sunday’s final stages.

Andreas Mikkelsen, the 2016 Rally Australia champion, was an early dropout after rolling into a ditch in his Hyundai. Mikkelsen had only just avoided a tractor that had found its way onto the course.

Former winner Molly Taylor and co-driver Malcolm Read were also forced out of their event when their Subaru hit a hay bale at high speed on the morning’s second stage. Both reported soreness but suffered no serious injuries.

The 24-stage rally totals 319 kilometers (197 miles). Ten stages are scheduled Saturday with the final six on Sunday, most of them through forests on the New South Wales state’s north coast about 530 kilometers (325 miles) north of Sydney.