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IMSA Daytona 24 Hours

Auer suffers back injury in Daytona 24 practice shunt

Mercedes driver Lucas Auer has suffered a back injury and been taken to hospital following a violent crash in opening practice for this weekend's Daytona 24 Hours.

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

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, before 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.

The 2022 DTM runner-up was transported to hospital, and was reported to be conscious but complaining of back pain.

AMG Motorsport later confirmed Auer had sustained a fractured lumbar in his spine. According to information from sister site Motorsport-Total.com, Auer will undergo surgery to stabilise the fracture.

Significant damage to the Winward Mercedes means a replacement chassis is needed for the team to take part in the 24-hour event this weekend, while the team is set to call up a replacement driver before this weekend.

The team is bringing a replacement chassis to Daytona from its base near Houston and due to the chassis swap the #57 car loses pole position in the GTD class and has to start from the back of the grid.

Lucas Auer, Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD

Lucas Auer, Mercedes-AMG Team WINWARD

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

Auer's team-mate Philip Ellis had put the #57 car on pole position in the GTD class in last weekend's qualifying session, also outpacing the best of the GTD Pro cars, leading an all-Mercedes top four.

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.

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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