On a hot and humid afternoon that tested the limits of both man and machine, the DeltaWing team handled everything the conditions threw at them, making steady improvements throughout the day to qualify third in the P1 class and 12th overall for tomorrow’s American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park.
A late session tire puncture prevented driver Andy Meyrick from carving even more precious ticks off his qualifying lap times, but when the day ended he and co-driver Katherine Legge were happy in the knowledge that the team and the car are heading in the right direction.
“I asked the team to take a step forward from our last race and they’ve really done that,” said Meyrick, qualifying with a lap time of 48.931 seconds. “Every time we went out today, we had an improvement with the car. What’s encouraging is that they’re making changes that show an improvement and that the changes are having the effect we expected. So they’re all positive changes.”
Meyrick acknowledged that these sorts of conditions have affected the DeltaWing in the past, but was encouraged to see the car and the team work through the set up in relatively quick fashion.
“I don’t know that you could get worse conditions for an engine,” said Meyrick, of the 136-degree track temperatures on a day that saw the heat index go into the mid-90s. “The heat has gotten us in the past, so they’ve clearly done a fantastic job on the engine. And we’ve got a few options on the tires that are really working for us. We’re starting to learn a lot about the car from a performance point of view, so Bridgestone and Élan should be congratulated for the job they’ve done. I think we’ve got a good race car.”
The DeltaWing completed a total of 54 laps in the two practice sessions earlier in the day, with the team working on the chassis, tires and brakes in order to find the best balance for qualifying. Legge got in a good number of laps in the morning, with only two hot laps in the afternoon due to an extended red flag. But the veteran British racer was quick to agree with Meyrick that the improvements were obvious.
“We’ve made a lot of progress with the car,” said Legge. “We worked out all the things that came up today, so we’re moving in the right direction. This is a development project – we iron out the things we come across, move forward and keep getting quicker. Although the competitive side of you wants to be out there racing for the top position, it’s very cool to be part of such an innovative project.”
DeltaWing managing partner Dr. Don Panoz was quick to attribute a measure of the day’s success to the addition of race engineer Alan Mugglestone, who helped Team LNT gain a GT2 class victory in the 2006 24 Hours of Le Mans with a Panoz Esperante GTLM.
“The car is working well,” smiled Panoz. “It’s good to have Alan with us. We’re getting the team together and moving forward.”
The American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix from Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, CT is set for 3 p.m. ET Saturday, with live coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com. Viewers outside the United States can watch races live on ALMS.com.