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.
Ed Carpenter Racing has signed 2019 Indy Lights runner-up Rinus VeeKay to drive the full 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, the team announced Wednesday.
VeeKay will drive the No. 21 Chevrolet previously occupied by Spencer Pigot.
“I’m so happy!” the 19-year-old driver from the Netherlands said in a press release. “It’s a dream come true and something we have worked extremely hard for over the last couple of years. To step up from USF2000 to the NTT IndyCar Series in three years is really special.”
In his maiden Indy Lights season this year, VeeKay collected six race victories and seven pole potions. VeeKay previously won the 2018 Indy Pro 2000 championship, and finished second in the 2017 USF2000 standings.
VeeKay’s success in the ladder series caught the attention of Carpenter, who gave VeeKay the opportunity to first test for the team at Portland International Raceway in August.
“I have been following Rinus’s path through the Road to Indy, especially the past two years,” Carpenter said. “It was clear to me that he deserves to be in an Indy car. After his first day in a car at Portland this past season, that feeling became even more apparent. His pace, feedback and demeanor inside the car was very impressive for such a young driver.”
As a driver, Carpenter will be VeeKay’s teammate during the five oval races in 2020, once again returning to the team’s No. 20 entry. An announcement on which driver will pilot the No. 20 on the road and street circuits will be made at a later time.
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