With the Lone Star Le Mans weekend at Circuit of the Americas marking the two-year anniversary of the DeltaWing coupe’s debut, the Claro/TracFone DeltaWing Racing Cars team looks to build on its recent performance gains and finish strong at the final TUDOR United SportsCar Championship events of the season.
With an eighth-place finish at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in July and a sixth at Road America last month, the DeltaWing team has improved the coupe’s reliability while also engineering advances in speed. Drivers Katherine Legge and Memo Rojas tested new setup parameters last month, ahead of this weekend’s event and the last race of the year; Petit Le Mans at the team’s home track, Road Atlanta.
The DeltaWing coupe has undergone numerous changes since its first race two years ago, including a new gearbox and completely new rear assembly this season. The previous two races indicate that the reliability issues are in the past as the team continues to aim for a podium finish – and the DeltaWing’s first victory. Step one has been to put themselves into the kind of position they were in at Road America, where an alternate pit strategy designed to put the car to the front was employed. While it didn’t pan out then, the key is to be in a position to take advantage of the situations that present themselves.
“The challenges we’ve dealt with this year were due to reliability, mainly with the new gearbox. Really, Mazda Raceway was the first true road course we raced on and that’s when our lack of mechanical grip became apparent, so that’s been the focus for the past several months. We’re continuing to develop, which is what this car is all about. It will be good to get back to CotA and of course, the last race of the season is at our home track. We nearly earned a podium finish there last year and that’s our goal this year; to step up and show that all our work has paid off. We gambled with pit strategy at Road America and while it didn’t pay off, it didn’t cost us anything. But it was good just to be there. We know that if we can get up front, we can stay up front. We just have to get ourselves into that position.
““We’re looking for more mechanical grip now, which is what we worked on at Road Atlanta last month. We had a small aero bit that we ran as well. The test went well, we came away with a good setup. The change of direction in the esses at CotA will be interesting for us, since we still aren’t able to abuse the curbs like some of the other prototypes but we found more mechanical grip at the test which should help in those types of corners.”
“Since the coupe’s debut, we’ve changed pretty much everything on the car. Every aspect of the car has been improved and we’ve made leaps and bounds forward. We’ve learned so much about the car, made many improvements and technological advances. We’re looking forward to seeing how the changes have impacted the car since it first race here two years ago.
“It’s been an impressive journey. Everyone has been buoyed by our recent progress and we’re looking forward to getting back to COTA. We haven’t been back here since the beginning of the coupe’s lifecycle. COTA is a phenomenal facility, it’s become much storied in a short amount of time. The track is very unique in its layout. There are so many change-of-direction corners; a lot of flowing sweepers that go from one to the next. Traditionally, we haven’t set the car up for those kinds of turns, but we’ve gone back to the drawing board for COTA and hopefully we’ll be able to prove what we’ve learned both here and at Petit Le Mans. We’re looking to finish the season strong, as a springboard into next season. We’re hoping to learn as much as we can this weekend so we can race for the win at Petit.”
“I’m very excited to get back to COTA. I won the race last year and it’s one of the tracks I enjoy the most. Typically, it’s a clean race because there’s so much open space. Because the runoff areas are paved, I think the track might be cleaner than my kitchen! But this can be good and bad; there are fewer things that can go wrong, so you can take more risks. That can take away some of the “fear factor” that you would have at other tracks, places that if you go off you know you’re going to hurt your car. But I like it. Of course, I like all the elevation changes, especially in turn one, with the uphill braking zone.I like the flow of the track. It’s got a nice sequence of high speed and low speed corners and if you have a good lap going, you can keep the momentum and the flow going. We need to have good pace early on, in case it goes green all the way.
“The last two races have been very encouraging. The team has worked hard on the car and it seems as though the gearbox situation has been sorted. Now we’re looking for performance: first you find reliability, then you find speed – and we showed good speed at Road America. I would say that the recent test at Road Atlanta was the best test I’ve had with DeltaWing. The team has made great improvements on the car, especially in terms of reliability. We were close to the lap record at Road Atlanta and that’s very encouraging.”
The Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas takes the green flag on FOX Sports 2 at 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, September 19. FOX Sports 1 will rebroadcast the race on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET. Qualifying will be live on IMSA.com at 4:45 p.m. Saturday