Proton Competition has withdrawn its No. 88 Porsche 911 RSR-19 from the 1000 Miles of Sebring after an incident with the No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R during Free Practice 2.
Bronze-rated driver Ryan Hardwick crashed into the left-side barriers on the approach to Turn 7 after contact from Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook.
Proton team principal Christian Ried told Sportscar365 that the No. 88 Porsche sustained chassis damage that prevents it from taking part in Friday’s FIA World Endurance Championship season-opener.
He also confirmed that Proton’s spare GTE-spec Porsche is at the team’s headquarters in Germany and will not be flown to the U.S. for the race.
American driver Hardwick recently announced plans to contest the first four rounds of the WEC season including the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He was due to share the No. 88 Porsche at Sebring with Zacharie Robichon and Harry Tincknell.
Commenting on the incident, Ried said: “In the drivers’ briefing, it’s exactly what they all say.
“The prototypes have to make sure that if they are in front of us, we are safe. And this was absolutely not safe. You see the result.
“On the onboard [footage], Ryan is on the left side and [going] straight. There is nothing he can do – he just gets pushed out.
“I’m so sorry for Ryan to start the season like this with a new project and new car. It’s not how it should be.”
According to a WEC bulletin, Westbrook received a 10-minute stop-hold penalty at the start of Free Practice 3 on Thursday, plus the withdrawal of two penalty points.
The bulletin stated: “Driver of car 2 misjudged the overtaking maneuver [sic] and hit car 88 in the braking zone.”
Sportscar365 has contacted Cadillac regarding the incident.