Allan Simonsen’s death after a spinout cast a pall over the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France.
The race still had more than 231/2 hours to go, but there was no call to stop it Saturday after the first driver fatality in 16 years.
Simonsen’s partner, Carina, the mother to their daughter born last year, made sure of that.
It was her “specific request” that Simonsen’s team, Aston Martin Racing, continue the world’s most renowned endurance race in honor of the Dane.
Ten minutes into the race, Simonsen spun and skidded into the barrier at the Tertre Rouge corner where cars typically reach speeds of up to 105 mph. Simonsen, 34, was taken to a hospital, where he died of his injuries, race organizers said.
Simonsen’s death marked the first driver fatality since 1997 when Sebastien Enjolras was killed in pre-qualifying. The last driver fatality during the race was Jo Gartner in 1986.
Another driver died Saturday in Nuerburg, Germany. Race organizers said two-time champion Wolf Silvester died because of “health problems” at the German VLN Endurance Racing Championship.
MCMURRAY QUALIFIES FIRST FOR SONOMA RACE
Jamie McMurray has one top-10 finish at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in 10 career starts, but he showed his comfort level on the road course Saturday with a surprise pole-winning run. He topped Marcos Ambrose with a lap at 94.986 mph.
It was McMurray’s ninth career Sprint Cup pole and first of the year. He also won the Sonoma pole in 2007.
Ambrose wound up second with a lap at 94.924 in NASCAR’s first use of the group qualifying format.
ALLMENDINGER EKES OUT WIN AT ROAD AMERICA
AJ Allmendinger slid past Justin Allgaier with seven laps to go, then defended his lead through a late restart and two green-white-checkered overtime finishes to win the NASCAR Nationwide Johnsonville Sausage 200 in Elkhart Lake, Wis.
For Allmendinger, it was another step toward rebuilding his career after sitting out part of last season because of a violation of NASCAR’s substance-abuse policy. It also was a return to Victory Lane at Road America for Allmendinger, who won at the 4-mile road course in the Champ Car Series in 2006.
CASTRONEVES LOSES POLE, GAINS INDY POINTS
Helio Castroneves claimed the pole for Sunday’s Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway in Newton, but he will start 11th after an unapproved engine change.
Will Power will start first, but Castroneves still earned nine championship points by winning the top heat. Castroneves also extended his lead over Ryan Hunter-Reay to 25 points.