DeltaWing coupe enjoys best ever run at Petit Le Mans (VIDEO)

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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.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”