Following three successful days at the “Roar Before the 24” test session, the DeltaWing Racing Cars team looks forward to their first Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona – the inaugural event for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
Drivers Andy Meyrick, Katherine Legge and newcomer Alexander Rossi logged 226 laps over the three day test session that included a night practice Saturday evening. The fast lap for the DeltaWing coupe came on Saturday afternoon, with a time of 1:40.508. Conditions at Daytona fluctuated wildly over the weekend, from Friday’s 45 degree high temperature to Sunday’s warm and sunny conditions – exactly the sort of weather variation the team can expect over the Rolex 24 weekend.
It was Rossi who had the most on his to do list for the test session. The young American will again serve as the Caterham F1 reserve driver, but stints in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2013 sparked his interest in sports car racing and led to his addition to the DeltaWing team. The weekend test saw his first laps in the revolutionary prototype and his first experience on the famed high banks of Daytona.
“I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised,” said Rossi. “The feedback and sensation we get is like any other race car, even though it doesn’t look like any other race car. But the most difficult thing here was the traffic. When I’m trying to learn a new car, I try to experiment, but I really couldn’t here because I could never do the same corner the same way on to successive laps. So you put it all together in a 30-lap run and try to figure out what worked and what didn’t. But it’s become more like second nature now. I’m really looking forward to coming back here and putting all our eggs in the basket and seeing what the performance of the car can be.
“The performance of the car was very good in this test and we’re going into the race with very high expectations. To be here at Daytona and to be a part of such a special project is very cool. I’m getting more and more comfortable with the car and we’ve had a very good test, especially in terms of reliability, so it’s all looking very positive.”
“The team has worked very hard and we’ve definitely improved the car and the reliability in the short off season,” said Legge.” We had a list of things to go through this weekend; getting Alex comfortable in the car, working on traction, trying to put less stress on the car – we got through them in very good shape. Reliability is key for the 24 and we’ve really had that this weekend.
“There are obviously situations we deal with at Daytona that we don’t encounter at the shorter races, like running at night. It was very busy during the night practice Saturday, because of course everyone was on the same sort of program, so I didn’t have a clear lap. But that’s how the race will be as well, so it was good to experience that.”
“We’ve brought forward a great deal of the things we learned at the test in November,” agreed Meyrick. “Like our reliability. The car is nice and consistent, good on the Continental tires, easy to drive. It really is a perfect race car right now. We’ll work on a few things for some additional performance but I wouldn’t mind if I had to race the car just as it is now. We’ve done good preparation for the race – and Alex has done a great job to get up to speed.
“The car ran well at night – and our visibility at night at Daytona is fine. But there are so many cars and that’s going to be difficult for everyone. Of all the 24 hour races I’ve done, this will be the busiest in terms of the number of cars on track. We really do need to stay out of trouble during the race.”
“We were good at the November test as well,” said Team Manager David Price, “so we made the improvements we knew we needed to make and they’ve proved to be quite successful. We’ve had three trouble-free days and we’re competitive in our times so we’re happy with the results. We will continue to work on our reliability and our fuel consumption, but we’ve been working on that this weekend and it seems to be paying dividends. Andy and Katherine have had a good amount of time here now and Alexander has gotten on it and he’s proved to be very competitive in the car. So we’re very pleased.”
“I am very pleased with the performance of the car and the performance of our drivers,” said DeltaWing Racing Cars Managing Partner Don Panoz. “The DeltaWing coupe continues to deliver technology in the way it was designed.”
The inaugural TUDOR Championship event, the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, is set for January 23-26.
(DeltaWing Racing Cars, photo: LAT/Levitt)