Lifestyle & Belief

Endurance races claim 2 drivers at Le Mans, Germany

Two drivers died on Saturday during endurance auto races, Allan Simonsen of Denmark at the iconic Le Mans 24 Hour, and former champion Wolf Silvester in the German Endurance Championships at Nuerburgring's Formula One track.

Simonsen, a 34-year-old from Denmark racing Le Mans for a seventh time, spun off on the fourth lap into safety barriers at the Tertre Rouge bend, Agence France-Presse reported.

Emergency crews took Simonsen to the circuit’s medical center where he died. The crash happened before the race was 10 minutes old.

"The driver was immediately attended on the scene by the doctors from the Automobile Club de l'Ouest’s Medical Service," race organizers said.

"In a serious condition, Allan Simonsen was transferred immediately to the Circuit Medical Centre where he died soon after due to his injuries."

AFP said rain and wind made conditions at the Sarthe circuit especially challenging for drivers.

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In Germany, the 55-year-old Silvester died behind the wheel of his Opel of apparent "health problems," The Associated Press said. No other drivers were affected.

After almost three hours of racing, officials cancelled the event in what was the fourth of 10 rounds of the 2013 national endurance championships, AFP said.

In France, officials stopped the race for an hour to repair the safety barrier, but Le Mans continued.

Simonsen, driving an Aston Martin V8 Vantage, was competing in the GTE-Am category in the 81st edition of the showpiece endurance event.

“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,” team director John Gaw told Reuters.

Simonson’s family members told the team to continue in his honor. The Aston Martin Racing website went black on Saturday in an apparent tribute to Simonsen.

The last driver to die at Le Mans was Austrian Jo Gartner in 1986, Sky News said. Sebastien Enjolras of France died in 1997 during qualifying events.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.