Aston Martin Racing dedicated their podium finish at Le Mans to Allan Simonsen, the AMR driver who died after his Vantage GTE crashed yesterday.
The team – at the specific request of Allan’s family – continued their participation in the 24 hour race and were close to claiming victory in the GTE Pro class.
AMR had an intense battle with Porsche AG Team Manthey in the closing stages, with the No.97 Vantage GTE and the 911 RSR nose-to-tail — Marc Lieb just about holding off the chasing Stefan Muecke.
But rain then forced a major change in events: the Aston pitted while the Porsche stayed out. A crash shortly afterwards involving two other cars caused a safety car and the Aston, when it rejoined the track, ended up a lap down. Porsche went on to take victory, with AMR finishing third.
Allan, whose No.95 Vantage was favourite to take the win in GTE Am class, was fatally injured after his car left the track and hit barriers at the fast right-hander of Tertre Rouge, on his fourth lap.
Aston Martin Chairman David Richards said: “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.”
Darren Turner, driver of the No.97 Vantage, spoke of the emotional weekend for the whole team. “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.”
John Gaw, Team Principal of AMR, said: “Le Mans 2013 will be remembered by the team for the tragic circumstances that surrounded the team’s participation, but everyone performed their tasks with the dignity that the circumstances demanded. Ultimately, the outcome did not achieve our objectives but we look forward to taking the lessons learned to the remaining rounds of the World Endurance Championship this year.”
Aston Martin CEO Dr Bez said the tragedy on the opening laps overshadowed the great performance of the team. “I am proud of everybody for demonstrating great speed, professionalism and competitiveness right up to the end of 24th hour. This achievement is a truly fitting tribute to Allan Simonsen.”
The results from the GTE Pro category: