DeltaWing Racing Cars has put two successful tests under its belt since its last race at Sebring, and headed to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend with renewed confidence and a different driver lineup.
For the four-hour American Le Mans Series Monterey, Katherine Legge makes her race debut both with the team and in the ALMS, joining Andy Meyrick aboard the No. 0 DeltaWing powered by Élan, with Bridgestone tires.
The team completed more than 100 laps at Roebling Road Raceway in Savannah, Ga. on April 30, with additional testing done at Buttonwillow Raceway in California on Monday.
“I’m delighted that in such a short period of time after Sebring, that we were able to improve the new engine that we developed,” said Don Panoz, managing partner, DeltaWing Racing Cars. “I can see we’ve fixed some of the gremlins, and the car ran for more than 100 laps at Roebling Road. We were also able to test a new cooling system and packaging for the engine.”
Although this marks the first start for the DeltaWing in Monterey, both Meyrick and Legge have experience at the 2.238-mile road course in Northern California. The goal for the drivers and team this week is to continue development of the revolutionary project and finish the race, after acquiring a substantial amount of data from the tests.
“The last time I was at Laguna Seca was in 2010 with Dyson Racing when we finished on the podium,” said Meyrick. “Obviously, our aspirations for this race are more modest than that. We head to Monterey with the aim of finishing the race, gathering lots of data and showing the potential that the car has to offer.”
Legge has performed the bulk of the testing work heading into Monterey. Her test day at Roebling Road was a major confidence boost and she was still getting used to the way the car handles during Thursday’s two-hour test session at Lagune Seca.
"The track’s great to drive, and it didn’t take long to remember where I was going even though I haven’t been here in a few years,” she said. “You just have that natural feel for where the corners are here. It was intriguing being around the other cars.
“You really learn quickly how to navigate traffic in the other classes. Hitting the apex isn’t difficult to judge – you just know the rear of the car is wider going in. Having been to several different tracks with this car, I’ve now driven it enough to know the apex is no longer an issue."
The DeltaWing was able to complete 16 laps during the testing session, but was well behind the other three LMP1 entries. The DeltaWing’s lap times were also slower than the entire LMP2, LMPC and Gt classes, but were faster than any of the GTC cars.
Coming from open-wheel racing, where Legge last raced in IndyCar in 2012, she found the transition to the DeltaWing to be fairly smooth. She explained that the high-downforce nature of Mazda Raceway, where handling and cornering take precedence on setup over straight-line speed, the DeltaWing should react well.
Legge has sports car experience in Europe, in the DTM series, but last performed driver changes in the 2007 24 Hours of Daytona. She and Meyrick will work together to perfect those changes this week.
Today’s race begins at 6:30 p.m. and ESPN2 will provide coverage on Sunday at 4 p.m.