Croatian racer Martin Kodric’s impressive Total 24 Hours of Spa debut came to a devastating end after a horror crash involving friend and teammate Adrian Amstutz this weekend (28-30 July).
The 20-year-old had helped take his Barwell Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan GT3 up 30 places and back into seventh in the Pro-Am class after car problems led to a slow start. But just over half-way through the biggest GT race in the world, with a Top Five place in their sights, Amstutz was involved in an horrific crash that saw him momentarily trapped and the car engulfed in flames. While the bravery and quick-thinking of the incident team, marshals and emergency services certainly saved his life, the Swiss racer was hospitalized with second degree burns and broken ribs. And after staying at his friend’s bedside where he is in a stable condition, the ADD Motorsports-supported driver’s thoughts were only on his recovery.
He said: “I’m devastated. It was the worst accident I have ever seen, I’m just so thankful he’s alive. “Racing takes a backseat when you have someone you are close to go through something as horrific as this. “At this highly emotional time, all my thoughts are with Adrian and his family and I pray for a quick recovery.”
After securing a brilliant second win in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup at the Paul Ricard 1000km in June, the team had moved up to just eight points behind the leaders. For one of the world’s most popular races in motorsport and the highlight of the Championship – Total 24 Hours of Spa - the car No.77 line-up of Kodric, Amstutz and Patrick Kujala was joined by on-loan Corvette Racing factory driver Oliver Gavin. While the car was not competing for pace in free practice and pre-qualifying, the drivers did brilliantly to finish 29th overall and P5 in class in qualifying, seeing them just miss out on a Top 20 Superpole place by the tiniest of margins. While Martin did not run out on new tyres during qualifying, his times were still excellent. However, they got off to the worst possible start when the racing finally got underway on Saturday. Gavin felt there was a major problem with the car on his way to the grid, but valuable time was then wasted in waiting to pull the car back to the garages. The driveshaft issue lost them 20 minutes, with the team doing a brilliant job to get them back on track just four laps down. But from 64th position, the drivers kept pushing, with Martin helping the team move up 30 positions and into P7 in class with around half of the race gone.
While his third and fourth stints were often hampered by safety cars and grouping, his other stints saw some impressive overtakes and times. His lap-times were as fast as anyone on track and when the rain came and he went onto wets, he was the fastest car for a few laps – despite the wealth of experienced drivers competing. However, lap times and Championship points pale into insignificance after the Amstutz crash. At 5.30am on Sunday morning, just over half-way into the race, the driver span and was then involved in an horrific collision. One member of the Spa incident team was on the scene immediately and managed to free him from the blazing wreck. He was treated by medical staff and then transferred to Liege Hospital where he was accompanied by Martin and Barwell Motorsport’s Managing Director Mark Lemmer. He remains in a stable condition with non-life threatening injuries, with the GT racing and motorsport world wishing him a quick recovery.
Fraser Sheader, director of performance and management team ADD Motorsports, added: “While Martin took this opportunity to learn as much as he could, it’s of no consolation when your close friend and teammate is involved in something so terrible. “The incident team, marshals and medical staff did an amazing job and we join everyone in wishing Adrian a speedy recovery.”