Nobody’s laughing now.
Remember when the DeltaWing first broke cover in 2010 as a potential new chassis for the IZOD IndyCar Series? For every person that praised its emphasis on efficiency and innovation, there was always another that couldn’t get over its radical design and then proceeded to mock it.
Later that year, the DeltaWing was passed over by INDYCAR in favor of Dallara. But its journey didn’t end there. Instead, it moved into sports car racing and eventually, it would make its competitive debut at the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Then, this past February, the machine was called upon to go full-time in the American Le Mans Series. For this venture, it was given some new attributes – a 1.9-liter Elan Power engine, Bridgestone tires, an almost entirely new crew led by manager David Price, and one snazzy chrome paint job.
Prior to last Sunday’s ALMS race at Road America, the DeltaWing – which comes in at half the weight and half the horsepower of a typical Le Mans prototype – had shown flashes of promise this year but didn’t have a lot of results to show for it thanks to various engine and mechanical issues.
But all of that changed in Wisconsin as open-wheel veteran Katherine Legge and Andy Meyrick took the fight to the all-conquering Muscle Milk Pickett Racing team before coming home with a third-place finish in the P1 class and a fifth-place showing overall.
Facing a damp but drying track, Legge was undaunted and following a quick stop to switch to slick tires, she found herself giving the DeltaWing its first lap led in international competition at Lap 20. She would hold on to the point for a number of laps leading up to her hand-off of the car to Meyrick, who took the controls at Lap 30.
Meyrick would also get some laps in at the front of the pack before one of the Muscle Milk men, Klaus Graf, managed to get past him in the track’s “Canada Corner” with 53 minutes remaining in the 2-hour, 45-minute race.
A late splash of fuel put the DeltaWing in fifth, but an attempt to make one last charge for the overall podium was thwarted when a caution with nine minutes to go eventually proved to be the end of the race.
Nonetheless, both Legge and Meyrick were pleased with the DeltaWing’s best performance of the season.
“Everyone has worked extremely hard and every time we go out we improve,” said Legge. “But today, we really proved what the essence of the DeltaWing is all about.”
“We’re happy but also a little disappointed, because I think we really could have gotten second place overall,” said Meyrick. “But to be disappointed at not finishing second shows how this project is moving forward.”
Indeed, Sunday was a true sign of progress for everyone directly involved in this unique project – and a day to cheer for the fans who had always believed in it.