In our first in a series of articles looking back at the life of Allan Simonsen, who tragically died at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, Joe Osborne reflects with Racing.GT on how the ‘Great Dane’ helped him on his motorsport path. In colourful language, the former FIA GT4 Champion explains the competitive and lighter sides of Simonsen, which made him admired in paddocks across the globe.
Sharing a house with Allan’s younger sibling Benny, Osborne got an insight of how the Asian GT Champion ticked. “Living with Benny Simonsen I got to know Allan over the last five years.” He told Racing.GT this week. “My first impressions of Allan was his confident swagger. I thought this guy either thinks he is the bollocks or he is the bollocks. It was quite obviously the latter.
“When Allan used to stay with us his childish side would come out. I will never forgot the poor hire cars he had and having to apologise to our neighbours for his “clutch issues” as he left a 50 meter set of elevens and a plume of tyre smoke with his cheeky grin plastered across his face.”
Whilst Simonsen had a fun side to him, he was also on hand to give Osborne advice on his career path in motor racing. “There was also his kind side. He constantly gave me his thoughts on my next move trying to help me move up the ladder and always brutally honest with me. Asking me what was I doing in racing in that “shit box”?! Stupidly I remember, crystal clear, when he came up to me after a race congratulating me being “an alright driver because I beat all the other shit boxes”. That coming from Allan outweighs any compliment from anyone else. Ever.”
The time then came for Osborne to compete against the Dane, and the British racer always used Simonsen as his benchmark. “When I started racing directly against him he’d be the last person I want behind me in a race because you knew what was coming, it was just a question of when.” He adds. “In qualifying the questions on the radio would be “what position am I”, followed by, “where is Simonsen”. I’d gauge my performance from my gap to him. If I was in front I always wondered, what was wrong with his car? He really is a guy I want to emulate. Winning around the world and respected and loved in every corner of globe. He’ll never be forgotten.”
The Danish Automobile Sport Union have recently set up a memorial fund in Simonsen’s name, which will see donations go to his partner Carina Lundbye Hansen and their one year old daughter Mie-Mai Lundbye Simonsen. To find out more information and make a donation, please visit the link below.