The DeltaWing Racing Cars team handled everything the first eight hours of the Rolex 24 at Daytona could throw at them, keeping the revolutionary sports car prototype on the racetrack as day turned into night at the famed speedway.
The very nature of the Rolex 24 means that teams will spend at least part of the endurance classic managing adverse situations, and it was no different for the DeltaWing crew. Andy Meyrick took the green flag in seventh position and kept the car in the top 10 with a relatively trouble-free stint. Meyrick handed off to Katherine Legge after 95 minutes, but Legge soon began to experience gearing issues. A quick trip to the garage took care of the problem, but soon after she rejoined the field, the race was brought to a halt by a 79-minute red then yellow period following a huge crash in the racetrack infield section.
Once the green flag came out, Legge managed the traffic as she worked her way up through the field, posting the DeltaWing coupe’s quickest race lap on lap 100 (1:40.975). Gabby Chaves took the wheel at 7:00pm, only to end up in the turn one tires on his out lap. The team made a lightning fast nose change and sent Chaves on his way, putting down laps and handling a variety of situations, including the 9:00pm fireworks.
Chaves handed off to Alexander Rossi shortly before 9:30pm, but Rossi soon experienced boost problems. A quick look at the engine revealed that the connector between the header and turbo had broken – the team is working on a fix to get the DeltaWing coupe back out on to the track.
“It was a good start – the car was good right from the green flag. We knew it would be difficult once all the cars were on the track, so we were very careful in traffic. There are really different speeds and situations out there; the DPs are aggressive and the P2 cars are fast in a straight line, so some caution is in order. I stayed out of trouble and all in all, the stint was uneventful - which is exactly what you want.”
“The crew did a great job to get the gearbox pieces changed very quickly. I wasn’t out for that long before the horrendous crash happened. I hope everyone is okay. But we sat out there for a long time and it was hot in the car, but given what was going on at the time, I can’t complain about what I was going through. When we came back to green, we were at the back of the line, so it was difficult to get through everybody. It’s difficult, especially after a yellow, when you’ve got a train of cars and they’re all fighting within their own classes as well. You have to find the fine line between being aggressive enough and committed, and not taking big risks. We had good pace, in traffic and by ourselves, so the DeltaWing coupe seems to be handling everything quite well.”
“I was talking to the guys on the radio and having difficulty getting the fuel reset – it wasn’t working and I had the “low fuel” indicator flashing at me. I was trying to fix it and just that split second you lose concentration while you’re trying to do something else, you miscalculate. The combination of that and cold tires and I was in the tires. Fortunately, it wasn’t a big hit, with just some body damage, but we lost a few minutes there. The guys did a great job to get the car up and running quickly. But it’s a one of a kind experience: you’re out there trying to pull lap times, but you’re dealing with smoke and fireworks, traffic, everything you have to do in the cockpit, but it’s an experience I won’t forget.”
The Rolex 24 at Daytona - the inaugural event of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship - will take the checkered flag Sunday afternoon at 2:10pm ET. Overnight coverage will be on IMSA.com, with FOX Sports 1 picking up the action at 7:00am.