Winward Racing’s Lucas Auer is currently hospitalized in Daytona Beach, Fla. after crashing his Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the opening practice session Thursday (Jan. 26) for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. According to a press release, Auer suffered “significant lumbar fractures” in the crash.
Auer had just finished the fastest GT lap in the session when he dove into the infield on another hot lap. Exiting turn 2, Auer dropped his right rear wheel off the track and into the dirt. That loosened the Mercedes and pitched him head-on into the concrete wall that separates the track from the warmup lane for those coming out of the pits.
Auer was in significant pain after the crash and a significant amount of time was spent extricating the Austrian racer from the Mercedes. Once that was done, he was taken to the hospital. At last check, Auer is awake and alert at the hospital and communicating with teammates in Daytona, in addition to his family back in Europe. Given Auer’s back injuries, he will be out for the remainder of the weekend in Daytona and beyond.
Winward Racing’s crew attempted to make some repairs on the stricken Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the garage after the wreck. However, they indicated in their press release that they have determined that the car is beyond repair. That said, they will not be withdrawing from the race. A replacement car is en route to Daytona Beach from the team’s shop in Texas. Due to the team going to a backup car, the No. 57 will have to give up their class pole and start from the rear of the field on Saturday.
Winward Racing has named Daniel Morad as Auer’s replacement in the No. 57 Mercedes for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Morad is already in Daytona, racing for the team in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge alongside team owner Bryce Ward in a Mercedes-AMG GT4.
“[This is absolutely not how I wanted to get into the Rolex 24] this year,” Morad told Frontstretch Friday. “It’s a lot of mixed emotions. Obviously, I want Lucas to be ok and that’s the number one priority, but someone has to step in and I’m glad that [Winward Racing] considered me to jump in. They have the confidence to put me in with no laps this weekend.”
Morad has five previous starts in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. He is a past class winner, winning in GTD back in 2017 for Alegra Motorsports in a Porsche. More recently, he finished third in GTD in 2020 for WTR Speedstar in an Audi R8 LMS GT3.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
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