Scot Allan McNish’s bid to win his third Le Mans 24-Hours was overshadowed by the death of Aston Martin driver Allan Simonsen.
The 34-year-old Dane, one of the elite of the world’s GT drivers, crashed heavily into the barriers at the Tertre Rouge corner just ten minutes into the 90th anniversary running of the famous French endurance race.
Edinburgh’s John Gaw, Aston Martin Racing’s managing director, said Simonsen’s family had specifically requested the team continue to race to honour the memory of the driver who had contested seven Le Mans.
“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,” Gow said.
As the race continued, McNish, the 43-year-old from Dumfries, headed into the drizzle of the night with his No 2 hybrid-diesel Audi R18 e-tron quattro leading the race by over three minutes.
The Aston Martin of Kirkcaldy’s Peter Dumbreck, a team-mate of Simonsen’s, headed into the night locked in a three-way battle in the GTE Pro class.
Bathgate’s Marino Franchitti was 11th in LMP2 in his Honda, which had pre-race handling problems.