The DeltaWing coupe not only isn’t going away, it’s getting better with each passing race.
This weekend’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season finale at Petit Le Mans featured a Daytona Prototype overload with seven cars, three P2-spec cars, albeit only one (No. 42 OAK Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda) eligible for Le Mans and ACO spec, and the DeltaWing in the Prototype class.
The DeltaWing had a bit to prove but was looking for a big result on home soil; the Tim Keene-led team is based in Braselton.
During the 10-hour race, the Élan-powered DeltaWing was the only consistent threat to the DP cars. Drivers Katherine Legge, Andy Meyrick and Gabby Chaves posted lap times into the mid-to-low 1:14 range and were either on the lead lap or within one lap of the lead the entire race, running in the top five from start to finish.
It came after a weekend when Legge qualified fifth, and reckoned she could have gone even quicker. A series of aero and performance updates since the car’s last race at Road America – where it had finished a season-best sixth – only served to prove the car’s increased competitiveness.
There was contact that occurred in the fifth hour between the DeltaWing, then driven by Meyrick, and the Ligier, driven by Gustavo Yacaman, entering Turn 1. Although light, the contact nudged Yacaman off the road and into the tire barriers, ending that car’s race. Following the contact, the team opted to change the nose assembly to guard against potential splitter damage and also fix a wiring issue.
The other drama occurred with three hours to go, when the car lost both first and second gears. But all three drivers were able to continue, despite having only third through fifth to choose from, en route to a program-best fourth place finish.
“For the first three hours, we really thought we were in with a chance of winning,” Legge said post-race. “The team did a really good job, we’re proud of fourth. We’ve worked on reliability, we’ve worked on speed and the last race of the season has been our best from both of those aspects.”
Added Meyrick, who’s been with the program since the start of 2013: “It’s a challenge, with three gears and trying to save fuel and keep the car in fifth place until we got fourth. You just have to know when to push and when to save fuel. But they’re never enjoyable stints! But the car was very good – the takeaway is that we had a very fast racing car. In the areas we could push, we were as fast as anyone.”
It was a popular result for the car that doesn’t really fit into any type of box, which is a nice anomaly in the heavily regulated, usually spec car, modern era of motorsport.
Here’s some on-board video from the weekend.