The DeltaWing coupe made a historic first appearance at Daytona International Speedway this week, completing two days of development on the high banks ahead of January’s Rolex 24, the first race of the new Tudor United SportsCar Championship.
The sports car test sessions took a dramatic turn on Wednesday morning, when officials from the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) and Continental Tire made the decision to suspend testing for the Prototype class, pending investigation of two incidents involving Daytona Prototype cars on Tuesday. However, the DeltaWing coupe, which has different aerodynamics and different sized Continental tires than the other prototypes, was cleared to continue a second full day of valuable development time on the 3.56 mile circuit. The team completed 131 laps, with a quick lap time of 1:40.883.
The first question to be answered was how the DeltaWing coupe would handle the 31 degrees of banking at Daytona, as well as the transitions from the oval to the infield road course. Any lingering doubts were erased quickly, as Katherine Legge and Andy Meyrick found that the prototype sports car managed the track with ease.
“We really didn’t know how the DeltaWing coupe would handle the banking but it felt good, nothing unpredictable,” said Legge. “The car managed the bumps, the changes of direction, the chicane and the transitions with no problem. The team has made great progress with the car and with the new Continental tires.
“We did a good number of laps today. We made some gains and some improvements through the sessions – we’re happy with the performance and the reliability of the coupe. We did a good amount of tire work, engine work, set up, so we’ve achieved a lot in many different areas. Andy and I have gotten up to speed on the track so I’d say it’s been a successful test.”
Legge has driven at Daytona before, running a DP in the Rolex 24 in 2007, but Tuesday marked Meyrick’s first view of the legendary track.
“It’s my first time on an oval like this so it’s been a cool experience,” said Meyrick. “The track is well suited to the car. It’s a very different track in terms of the nature of it, so there are a few set ups we’re trying. We’re also working on different tire compounds. The car feels very stable, very safe and very good in traffic. The car is perfect from that point of view because it gives you good confidence to push straight away – it doesn’t take long to get up to speed. We have a good starting point with the car here, so it’s good.”
DeltaWing Racing Cars team manager David Price was not surprised at how easily the coupe managed the tri-oval, given its lineage.
“We didn’t really anticipate any problems on the banking,” said Price. “Since the DeltaWing was originally designed as an IndyCar, it should handle an oval with no problem. This is also an ideal circuit for us; lots of straights, lots of full throttle. Like Le Mans and Road America, this track should suit us. The car is performing well on the Continental tires, so we’re happy with the outcome of the test.”