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HRT Disappointed With “Disastrous” 24H Dubai Outcome

HRT boss Ulrich Fritz explains Mercedes-AMG squad’s early exit from 24H Dubai…

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Haupt Racing Team CEO Ulrich Fritz expressed disillusionment at his team’s early exit from the Hankook 24H Dubai after both of the team’s cars were eliminated from the race with less than a quarter completed.

HRT experienced a weekend to forget at the Middle Eastern enduro with a double retirement, coming after the team had shown strong pace early on and locked out the front row in qualifying.

A fiery crash for the No. 4  Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo followed by suspension failure for the No. 777 sister car brought the German outfit’s weekend to a bitter and premature end.

Fritz said the team was left frustrated by the result, labeling it as “disastrous.”

“Obviously, for sure it wasn’t the race we expected,” Fritz told Sportscar365. “I think we put a lot of effort into putting together this program here in Dubai. I think we had good performance.

“The double pole and the front row lockout was quite okay and then of course the disappointment kicks in if you have such a disastrous result after not even 25 percent of the race.

“Of course there is big disappointment in the whole team but we have all been in motorsport long enough to know that these things can happen and we can only learn from it.”

HRT’s race unraveled in quick and spectacular fashion on Saturday evening, started by a heavy crash for French driver Sebastian Baud in the No. 4 car that resulted in the Bilstein-liveried machine briefly catching fire.

Fritz confirmed that Baud, who was taken to the on-site medical center for checks after the accident, was not injured by the impact with the barriers.

He added that the team would need further analysis to determine the exact cause of the incident, but ruled out that it was triggered by contact with another car.

“After we talked to Sebastian and looking at our data, we think that we had issues with the brake performance and in the end he lost the car and had a very, very hard hit into the barriers,” he noted.

“The chassis is completely bent and gone. I don’t think there was another car involved. We need to check whether it was a technical failure.

“I don’t want to blame anybody or anything before we have a full technical analysis, but at the moment I would exclude that another car caused the collision.”

HRT is also still in the dark as to the exact cause of the fire, although Fritz pointed out that the car had been refueled not long before Baud went off.

“I think it was a very hard hit,” he said. “The car had not been on the track long and the fuel tank was still quite full.

“With the hard hit on the left side, that’s where the fuel went in at the previous stop.

“Maybe there was a bit of fuel [leaking] over and it happened quickly. This is the only explanation we have.

“It was a very limited fire. It did not do a lot of damage to the car. We need to find out what made the fire start.”

While the No. 4 car was instantly eliminated by the impact with the barriers, the sister car was making progress up the order with Luca Stolz capturing fourth position halfway through Hour 6.

Less than 20 minutes later, however, the German brought the No. 777 Mercedes into the garage with a right-rear suspension failure.

“It came out of nowhere,” Fritz explained. “We had no contact, we had new parts on the car. We don’t really have an explanation. We will work together with AMG to analyze what happened there.

“We don’t have an explanation so far. The car came in and the suspension was completely broken.”

Fritz justified the retirement of the second car by explaining that the estimated length of the repairs would have made any kind of competitive finish likely impossible.

“It would have taken us at least 40 to 45 minutes to repair it and to be honest, we have not come to Dubai to finish P10 or P15,” he concluded.

“There’s no way in repairing it and you don’t know if the gearbox suffered from it and then you have the next topic.

“So it was the most reasonable decision to just park the car.”

Davey Euwema is a Sportscar365 reporter based in The Netherlands, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, DTM, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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