Thursday, October 10, 2013

Classic Sports Thursday - Allan Simonsen

A few years ago, Fox Sports in the States broadcast live Australia's signature touring car race, the Supercheap Auto 1000 from Bathurst, NSW, complete with Southeast-based broadcasters making the grand flight across the Pacific. Saturday night Australia will have the 53rd running of the classic (two races run in 1997 and 1998 because of a dispute -- one for the 2 litre European Super Touring formula in the usual October date and a mid-spring date for the 5-litre V8 Supercar formula that is traditionally Bathurst, mainly because of a dispute between Seven and Ten), the 43rd as a 1,000 km event (the first ten races were 500 miles but Australian metrification laws added 121 miles in 1973, abolishing the single-driver possibility that the great Peter Brock used in one of his nine Bathurst wins).

Tragic news from Bathurst history occurred in June when Allan Simonsen (DEN), the codriver of the pole-winning and eventual third-place finishing #11 Pepsi Max Kelly Racing Holden Commodore with Greg Murphy (who will be in Saturday night's classic in the #22 Walkinshaw Racing Toll Holden with James Courtney), was killed at the 24 Heures du Mans on Lap 3 going through Tertre Rouge when his Young Driver AMR Aston Martin went wide through the tricky double apex, hit the trees on the other side of the Armco, killing the popular Dane who had been set to participate in the Brad Jones Racing #21 car this season (a replacement has since been hired -- the #14 won one of the four Austin races in V8's this year (and also won with their #8 earlier in the season) - Triple Eight (#1, #10, #888) won the other three Austin races -- too bad ESPN dumped the V8's for their X Games next year at COTA).

Simonsen's lap of 2:04.956 in a Ferrari was taken during a hotlap meet at the legendary Mount Panorama circuit a hotlap event a month after the 2011 Bathurst classic, and was later surpassed by a 2:04.6187 lap in a Formula 3 car in Australia. Jenson Button also has a faster time from 2011 (1:48.88) in a McLaren MP4-26, but that was not in an official session, so it does not count.

In memory of the 2011 pole-winning team's co-driver, here's Simonsen's lap in a Ferrari that went under the 2:05 range:

2011 "Great Race" Finish (with US broadcast audio):


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