DeltaWing’s improvements coming at right time into Long Beach

Photo: Rick Dole/Panoz DeltaWing Racing

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Ahead of today’s third round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, the Panoz DeltaWing Racing team’s continuous effort and hard work is starting to pay dividends.

It hasn’t come yet in terms of outright results, but is in terms of increased competitiveness.

Katherine Legge led overall in the DeltaWing DWC13 coupe at Daytona, and the car she shared with Andy Meyrick and Sean Rayhall was poised for a lead lap finish at Sebring before heartbreak inside the final 20 minutes. The car retired with an issue in the steering rack.

“It’s been an encouraging start,” DeltaWing team manager Tim Keene told NBC Sports. “It was a shame to DNF with 17 minutes to go, but we were still on the lead lap. Potentially, we could have ended up sixth.

“We got what we got due to a crack in the steering box. One of the teeth broke off the rack. It’s just something we can’t do a lot about; given the way the car is designed and built, it’s like racing on railroad tracks for 12 hours.”

Also encouraging was the car’s improved pace in the morning two-hour practice session. Last year, the car was 2.078 seconds off the pace (1:16.063 to a 1:18.141); this year it’s just 1.313 off seconds (1:15.917 to 1:17.230). The time improved to a 1:16.578 by Meyrick in the afternoon, just 1.104 off the pace.

“I certainly don’t expect to be at the top of the field, I don’t think. But we are a lot closer than we have been,” Keene explained.

“We have to keep making gains. We didn’t make many significant changes. Made some shock adjustments and one spring change. Mainly it’s been to the drivers to get them to be more confident into the corners.”

Legge and Meyrick share the car this week, with Meyrick making his track debut and really enjoying the atmosphere of the Southern California street circuit. Legge, of course, won her first race in North America in the 2005 Formula Atlantic season – a race that put her on the map in the country.

Meyrick qualified a very solid sixth at a best time of 1:16.006. He’ll start the race before handing off to Legge at a pit stop sequence. This year the car was only 1.044 off pole; last year, it was 2.615 seconds.

“Qualifying went very well,” Meyrick said. “P6 is fantastic and the whole team should be congratulated on the job they’ve done today but also on the improvements to the car from 12 months ago.

“The team has progressed so far from where they were here only a year ago. Last year, the car was nearly three seconds off the leader’s time, whereas this year, we are barely over a second. We know we have a good race car and that’s the most important thing going into the race tomorrow.”

The team is also sending best wishes to senior race engineer Catherine Crawford, who continues to recover following emergency surgery to remove a brain tumor. The below signs are up on the team’s transporter this weekend.