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


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.

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E

Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.