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Auer suffers back injury in Rolex 24 practice shunt

Mercedes driver Lucas Auer has suffered a back injury following a violent crash in opening practice for this weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona.

#57 Winward Racing Mercedes AMG GT3: Russell Ward, Philip Ellis, Lucas Auer, Indy Dontje

Photo by: Art Fleischmann

Auer lost control of his #57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 coming out of Turn 1, just moments after setting the fastest time in the GT Daytona class, smashing head-on into the concrete wall near Turn 2 that separates the pit exit from the race track.

The accident triggered a red flag interruption of about 20 minutes, in which time Auer was retrieved from the stricken car. According to observations by photographers, the rollcage was cut open during this process.

Auer was transported to hospital, and was reported to be conscious but complaining of back pain. The subsequent diagnosis revealed a lumbar injury.

According to information from Motorsport.com's sister site Motorsport-Total.com, Auer suffered fractured vertebrae in his crash and will undergo surgery, which is a common procedure to stabilise such injuries. The 28-year-old has yet to comment following his examination at Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach.

Meanwhile, the team is bringing a replacement chassis to Daytona International Speedway from its base 1,400 kilometres away near Houston, Texas. A replacement driver is also expected to be named.

 

The AMG-GT3 shared by Auer, Ellis, Russell Ward and Indy Dontje outpaced the SunEnergy1 Racing example of Kenny Habul, Luca Stolz, Axcil Jefferies and Fabian Schiller.

But due to the chassis swap, the #57 Mercedes will lose pole position in the GTD class and will have to start from the back of the grid.

Significant damage to the Winward Mercedes means a replacement chassis is necessary, but AMG confirmed there is a new tub being sent from the team's base in Texas, and that a replacement driver will be announced "soon".

WeatherTech Racing claimed pole in GTD Pro with its Mercedes shared by Dani Juncadella, Jules Gounon, Maro Engel and Cooper MacNeil, and was fourth in the overall GTD order behind the #32 Team Korthoff Motorsports car.

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