Those we'll miss in 2014
A small tribute to those from the Top Gear world who left us this year
Posted: 31 Dec 2013
Allan Simonsen (1978 - 2013)
A violent accident on the third lap of this year's Le Mans 24 Hour Race claimed the life of Danish GT driver Allan Simonsen. Simonsen, aged 34, had previously scored third and second places in GT2 in seven appearances at Le Mans, and this year - partnered with fellow Danes Christoffer Nygarder and Kristian Poulsen in a GTE Aston Martin Vantage - he was looking for the win in the GTE-Am class. Earlier in the week, he had driven his team to pole.
The fatal accident, the first during the 24 Hours at Le Mans since 1986, cast a pall over a race which the dour weather and a record number of laps behind the pace car did nothing to banish. At the flag teams buzzed Aston Martin's pits as Tom Kristensen, one of the overall winners in the Number Two Audi R18 e-tron quattro, led another works Aston Martin over the line and dedicated his team's win to compatriot Simonsen.
On his Twitter profile Simonsen's biography simply read: "Professional Racing Driver. Living the Dream."
He was very much part of the driver's community in Monte Carlo - Jenson Button was among the local drivers who paid tribute. And there was never any shortage of team-owners looking to secure Simonsen's services: he lived to race and would travel 30-plus weekends in a year to race, including Europe, America, Asia and Australia, where he was a regular in the V8 Supercars. Alongside Kiwi Greg Murphy he finished third at Bathhurst in 2011.
His career started auspiciously in single-seaters. Simonsen won the Danish Formula Ford series at the age of 21, before transferring to Formula Palmer Audi and then German F3 and British Formula Renault. He then took a year out before confronting the decision all drivers have to at some stage: keep throwing money at single-seaters, or start earning in in GTs.
His results were solid, winning the Australian GT championship in 2007 in a Ferrari F430, and taking the runners up spot the following year. He finished seventh in the Le Mans Series GT2 class in that same F430. But it was his switch to Aston Martin that put Simonsen at the front the GT grids.
When Simonsen's death was confirmed by the Le Mans medical centre, it was at the express request of his family that the team continued the race. To his wife Carla, young daughter and family and friends, we extend all our sympathy.