Danish racing driver Allan Simonsen has died as a result of injuries sustained in a crash during today's Le Mans 24 Hours, race organisers Automobile Club de l'Ouest have confirmed.
Simonsen was contesting the GTE Am category at the wheel of an Aston Martin when he crashed heavily at the Tertre Rouge.
The 34-year-old was immediately attended to by doctors from the race's medical team.
"In a serious condition, Allan Simonsen was transferred immediately to the Circuit Medical Centre where he died soon after due to his injuries," a statement from the race organisers confirmed.
David Richards, the principal of the Aston Martin Racing team, immediately broke the news to Simonsen's family, the statement added.
It continued: "The Automobile Club de l'Ouest wishes to express its great sadness following this incident, and extends its deepest condolences to the family and those close to Allan Simonsen.
"The Automobile Club de l'Ouest will make no further statement while the exact reasons for the accident are still being wholly determined."
Simonsen was an experienced Le Mans campaigner and was racing for the seventh time at La Sarthe.
The race was less than 10 minutes old when the accident occured.
Only two days earlier Simonsen, along with Danish team-mates Christoffer Nygaard and Kristian Poulsen, was celebrating after the number 95 Aston claimed pole position in the GTE Am class.
Simonsen was the Danish Formula Ford champion in 1999 and went on to race in Formula Palmer Audi and the British Formula Renault Championship before carving out a career in sports cars.
He won the 2007 Australian GT Championship and took class honours in the 2009 Asian Le Mans Series.
A second-placed finish in the GT2 class in 2010 marked Simonsen's best result at Le Mans, while in 2008 he stepped up to contest the prototype LMP2 class at the famous endurance race.
Simonsen's Aston Martin team this evening responded in a statement.
"It is with great shock and sadness that the Aston Martin Racing Team confirms that an accident occurred shortly after the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans at around 15:09 hrs CET today (22 June) when the No 95 Vantage GTE driven by Allan Simonsen left the track at Tertre Rouge," it read.
"Tragically, and despite the best efforts of the emergency services in attendance, Allan's injuries proved fatal.
"Aston Martin Racing will not make any further comment until the precise circumstances of the accident have been determined.
"At the specific request of his family, the team will continue to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in tribute to Allan."
Aston Martin Racing managing director John Gaw added: "On behalf of all of us at Aston Martin Racing, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the individuals, and families whose friends or loved ones were involved in today's terrible tragedy."
Aston Martin's website has been replaced by a black screen featuring only the company logo as a mark of respect to Simonsen.