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Driver 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 23½ hours to go, but there was no call to stop the event 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” Simonsen’s team, Aston Martin Racing, continue the world’s most renowned endurance race in honor of the Dane.

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About 10 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. The 34-year-old Simonsen was taken to a hospital, where he died.

“Tragically, and despite the best efforts of the emergency services in attendance, Allan’s injuries proved fatal,” Aston Martin said in a statement.

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.

Allan McNish’s Audi No. 2 led at the halfway stage of the race.


Jamie McMurray earned the pole for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350, a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway in California, with a lap at 94.986 mph on the road course.

Greg Biffle of Vancouver, Wash., will start in fourth and Kasey Kahne of Enumclaw will start in 15th.

A.J. Allmendinger won the Johnsonville Sausage 200 Presented by Menards, a NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. It was his first NASCAR victory.