Danish driver Allan Simonsen died in a high-speed crash at the famous Le Mans 24 Hour endurance race, organizers said Saturday.
Simonsen, 34, one of the most experienced sports car drivers in the world, was competing for Aston Martin in the GTE-Am class.
He was at the wheel -- less than 10 minutes into the race -- when his car left the circuit on the Tertre Rouge corner and crashed heavily into the safety barriers.
Simonsen was immediately treated at the scene before being taken to the circuit's medical center where he died shortly afterwards, officials said.
"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," read a statement.
Simonsen was competing for the seventh time in the Le Mans 24-race and his teammates were fellow Danes Christoffer Nygaard and Kristian Poulsen.
The trio had won their class in the season opener for the World Endurance Championship at Silverstone and claimed pole position for Le Mans in their category in qualifying earlier this week.
After the accident, the race was halted for an hour before resuming with Simonsen's Aston Martin teammates still racing despite the tragedy.
"At the specific request of his family, the team will continue to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in tribute to Allan," read a statement on the official Aston Martin Racing website.
"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," said the team's managing director John Gaw.
This year's Le Mans marks the 90th anniversary of the race and its 81st edition on the Circuit de la Sarthe in south west France.