Winward in a thrash to get backup car ready for Rolex 24

Richard S. James photo

Winward in a thrash to get backup car ready for Rolex 24


Winward in a thrash to get backup car ready for Rolex 24


Winward Racing’s backup car has arrived at Daytona International Speedway and the crew is working hard to get it into racing shape to replace the car Lucas Auer crashed in practice yesterday. Auer crashed the No. 57 Mercedes-AMG in Turn 2 in the first official practice session for the Rolex 24 At Daytona, moments after setting the fastest GTD time of the session. Philip Ellis had qualified the car on pole last weekend.

“It’s going to be all hands on deck to it in racing condition,” reported Russell Ward. “But we have the best group in the world and I’ve no doubt that they’ll be able to get it up and running and get it in the same form as our original car.

The backup car is one that Winward Racing raced in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition last season.

“It’s going to be a ****load of work to get ready to go. But it’s something that unfortunately we’ve all encountered at some point or another and hopefully we’ll have it back together by the end of night tonight,” Ward said.

Daniel Morad, part of Winward’s efforts in Michelin Pilot Challenge, will replace Auer, who broke lumbar vertebrae in the crash. Morad has been a regular in Mercedes-AMG efforts, including helping achieve victory at the Indianapolis 8 Hour round of the SRO’s Intercontinental GT Challenge last October.

“He performed incredibly well in Indianapolis last year, and he’s just all around a solid guy. So we’re looking forward to having him in the car and I think it was just a right fit. So thanks to him for stepping up to the big challenge. He hasn’t been in the car since Indianapolis, so he’s going to have to step it up big time in the race,” said Ward.

The team is working to get a hardship lap in before the race to check things out and shake the car down. Going to a different car than in qualifying, they will have to start at the back, but will get to keep qualifying points.

Ward reported that Auer underwent surgery this morning and, while he is in significant pain, is able to move his extremities with no signs of paralysis.