Allan Simonsen: 1978-2013
|By Gary Watkins||Saturday, June 22nd 2013, 16:51 GMT|
Allan Simonsen, who died in an accident in the Le Mans 24 Hours today at the age of 34, was probably among the elite of the world's GT drivers and definitely among the most prolific.
The Dane had a race-anything-anywhere attitude: it was not uncommon for Simonsen to take part in 30 to 40 races a year all over the globe and he was equally at home in a GT car or an Aussie V8 Supercar.
The list of teams for which he competed over the past 10 years was a testament not only to his talents, but also to his personality: he was a cheeky-chappy who loved life in the paddock and gave it everything out on the race track.
Simonsen set out on the single-seater trail in his homeland, winning the Danish Formula Ford 1600 title in 1999, before moving to England to race in Formula Palmer Audi and Formula Renault.
When the money ran out, he was able to find a home or even a niche in GT cars, first in Australia and then in Europe.
He was also a regular in the V8 Supercars enduros and took part in a full season of the Utes pick-up series in 2005.
Simonsen should have won the Le Mans Series GT2 title with the Virgo Ferrari team, but had to miss the last race of the season because of his Australian commitments.
It was a measure of how popular Simonsen was that when the owner of the car, Jim McWhirter, needed a driver at late-notice just last year, he flew in the Dane to take the berth.
Simonsen, to the mind of this writer, came of age as a driver racing for the Farnbacher Ferrari squad in the LMS in 2010-11. On unfancied Hankook tyres, he impressed throughout the season.
Simonsen joined Aston Martin Racing at Le Mans last year and signed for the full season with the all-Danish crew with which he was racing this weekend for the full World Endurance Championship for 2013.
Once again, Simonsen showed his star qualities, winning the GTE Am class at the season opener at Silverstone and claiming pole position for Le Mans earlier this week.