One for Allan in Le Mans

Friday, June 20, 2014

Returning to La Sarthe in 2014 was always going to be a 'challenge' for both Aston Martin Racing and the Young Driver AMR teams. The tragic loss of their team mate Allan Simonsen twelve months ago was still being felt by all and a few would need to face up to their 'demons'.

With the team being adjusted again for 2014 the drivers for the 24Hr were confirmed as Kristian Poulsen,  David Heinemeier-Hannson and Le Mans newcomer Nicki Thiim - the same for the case as for the WEC.

David Heinemeier-Hannson Nicki and Thiim completed the qualifying over the Wednesday and Thursday evenings securing a combined time of 3:55.94 over the 8.5 mile track which was enough for them to secure third in class just one place back (in class) from their sister #98 Am car of Dalla-Lana, Nygaard and Lamy. The drivers did comment afterwards that second had been a possibility had it not been for a softening tyre and subsequent traffic but they were pleased with their position and performance so far that weekend.

Come the end of all the pomp and ceremony that identifies the Le Mans 24Hr as a classic it would be Nicki Thiim who would open the Young Driver's 2014 account.

First lap completed , then the second lap ………..

On third lap the calm, articulate voice of Jonny Palmer broadcasting on the Radio Le Mans audio feed reminded us all that it was at this point in time that Allan Simonsen had his dreadful accident exiting Tetre Rouge suffering injuries from which he would never recover. A great talent was gone but he wasn't about to be forgotten.

Over the course of the first driver stint Thiim was able to climb the running order, chasing down the class leading AF Corse Ferrari before the race's first Safety Car sessions came about due to the rain and carnage ensuing along the Mulsanne Straight.

After a few hours and numerous full service pits stops the race had calmed itself down with leading cars swapping positions after their respective stops. By the 6hour mark the Young Driver car was now second to its sister #98 car but both in comfortable positions respective to their opponents. An AMR 1-2 maybe but still a long way to go.

 Just after midnight the Young Driver car took the class lead.

All seemed to be going well for the team for the next few hours from darkness into light, over the top of midday and into the final hour of the twenty-four. With Kristian Poulsen at the wheel the #95 AMR took a little 'cough' - lost power which required a full electronic reset by the driver on track and a precautionary visit to its garage using up precious amounts of its three lap advantage. Many wondered if fate would deal the #95 another bad hand.

On the stroke of 3pm local and with lumps in our throats, with some 334 laps and 24 hours later Kristian Poulsen took the #95 Aston Martin across the finish line to claim an emotional Amateur class victory at the 2014 24Hours of Le Mans.

"It’s hard to find any words for this and it’s almost impossible to describe our emotion" said Team Principal Jan Struve after the race. "Everybody know’s what we have been through in the past 12 months, how we went through every emotion one can think of. This win is for Allan. Today, he was racing with us and kept his watchful eye on us. A big thank you to the team and our drivers, who made this all happen.“

Photo Credits - Richard Leach / Aston Martin Racing

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