The DeltaWing coupe saw its first ever race lead in the early laps of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida today, taking advantage of pit stops under yellow to lead much of the lengthy caution period - and a few laps under green. The coupe ran strong through the first hours of the endurance classic until a series of mechanical issues kept the revolutionary coupe off the track. In the end, it was a collision with a GT car that ended the day.
Andy Meyrick started the race in 12th place and held the position for the early laps of the race. An extensive yellow saw the leaders head for the pit lane, giving the overall race lead to the efficient DeltaWing coupe. Meyrick held the lead for two laps after the green flag came out. A problem with an air jack during the first pit stop put him back out in 24th spot, but Meyrick steadily worked his way back up, handing the DeltaWing coupe over to Katherine Legge in 12th position.
Legge continued the coupe’s forward progress, running as high as ninth before an alternator issue sent the car to the paddock. The team made short work of the alternator replacement, getting Legge back out in 15 laps. Running steady throughout her stint, Legge set a quick time for the DeltaWing coupe on lap 104 with a time of 1:56.446.
Gabby Chaves had more to deal with during his stint, as continuing mechanical issues sent the coupe to the paddock several times for repairs. Chaves also had the setting sun to deal with, which rendered several turns nearly impossible to see. Chaves handed off to Meyrick shortly after sunset, and Meyrick turned the wheel over to Legge in the waning hours of the race. But on lap 185, an collision with a GT car in the hairpin damaged the car too badly to repair within the time frame remaining.
Overall, the team had some very positive takeaways from the weekend.
“The car felt quite lively and very quick in my first stint. It was nice that when I came out from my pit stop, we were able to run a very similar pace to the other prototypes. We had a bit of a brake issue in the first stint, but once I had the opportunity to cool them down during the long yellow, it was fine. But once again, the DeltaWing proved to be a fantastic car in traffic - it was a good stint and it was good to lead a race again.
“During the second stint, it was more a point of staying out of everyone else’s fights for position. The car was still running well. We stabilized some of the mechanical issues and were able to run some reasonably competitive times. It’s clear that the pace is still there – I was delighted with the first stint and delighted with our relative performance in race trim. We ran so well all week, there are just some niggling problems we need to solve.”
“I spent a bit of time to fix the alternator problem and then it went red with that massive crash, so the first two hours of my stint were pretty messy! The second half of the stint was more normal, with the usual yellow flags – it’s hard to get into a rhythm. It’s difficult, coming back from a yellow because everyone’s adjusting their pace and since we were so many laps down, I didn’t want to impact anyone else’s race. Everyone is so bunched up on the restarts and everyone is having their own battles, so you don’t want to do anything silly, I’d rather take an extra second and get by cars safely.
“The track was pretty greasy during the daylight but that will improve when the sun goes down. We were having problems finding the brake balance – we were locking them up, it was so slick. But we got it figured out.”
“These things happen in endurance racing - when you’re out there beating a car up for 12 hours, it’s likely that something will happen. The team does a great job with any issue that we have and they never give up. The reliability isn’t quite there yet, but it’s steps forward, so that’s progress. The track got better when the sun started setting, but the visibility was terrible, especially in turn 17. I could barely see five feet ahead of me – sometimes you weren’t sure if there was a car ahead of you or not. It messes up every reference that you have.”
Team Manager David Price
“Obviously, we’re disappointed with the finish. We had a great start to the race, which really shows the development of the car - and proves that the combination of lighter weight, better aerodynamics, good fuel economy and efficiency can be competitive at this level. It was a great start, but certainly not the end we were looking for.”
Next up for the DeltaWing team will be the Continental Tire Sports Car Festival at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca May 3-4 – race four of the 2014 TUDOR United Sports Car Championship.