Audi takes historic 12th Le Mans win; feat marred by death
LE MANS, France: Audi had recorded its 12th win in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans but it was a victory overshadowed by the death of driver Allan Simonsen.
Simonsen’s Danish compatriot, Tom Kristensen, 45, was part of the winning trio of Audi drivers. He had extended his all-time record of nine victories in the historic race. His first win came in 1997, and this year touchingly dedicated his victory to Simonsen.
“We lost someone who had the same dream as I did—a good bloke,” said Kristensen. “Thus my feelings at winning are different this year. I am also thinking of my father who died in March. I would like to win again so that I can dedicate it to him because this victory is for Allan.”
Kristensen’s teammates were Allan McNish, tasting victory for the third time, and Loic Duval, who won for the first time.
Simonsen, 34, died as a result of injuries he suffered after a horrific high-speed crash at the wheel of an Aston Martin. A brief tribute was paid to him before the podium ceremony by six-time winner Jacky Ickx and Pierre Fillon, the president of the organizing committee.
Audi—which chalked up its fourth-successive win and 11th in the last 13 editions—came home a lap clear of Toyota, whose trio of drivers were Stephane Sarrazin and the former Formula One duo of Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi.
Audi’s two-time defending champions Marcel Faessler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer had led the race until they came to a halt in front of the stands late on Saturday night and lost 43 minutes while they changed their car’s alternator.