In an exclusive interview with team manager Tim Keene and longtime drivers Katherine Legge/Andy Meyrick, Motorsport.com gained insight on the progression of the DeltaWing ahead of 2016.
The DeltaWing had decent pace last year, but reliability really hindered your efforts; the gearbox in particular. How are you feeling about your reliability for the 2016 season?
Tim Keene: It's 360 degrees from what it was last year. Unfortunately, we had a new gearbox built and there were issues that we didn't see coming and couldn't overcome while we were down here. Since that time, we went through some more teething issues the first three or four races.
I feel a lot more comfortable with the gearbox. Like I said, it's not even the same as what we were here with last year.
Do you think you will have the pace to run up front with the leading prototypes?
Tim: We were really quick here in the Roar but today, with the rain, the risk vs. reward just isn't worth going out and running. Our pace in the wet isn't that great to be honest. If we had to race in the conditions, that's one thing, but since the rest of the weekend is dry, we're excluding ourselves from qualifying. I've won this thing starting from pit lane.
With such a different take on a race car, it's expected to have doubters and critics. Do you think you can surprise those detractors this year?
Tim: I think so. I think there's some people in the paddock who are definitely aware of us. Like you said, there will be critics who will be surprised at the pace we have as we get going.
What other areas of the car did you pay extra attention to during the offseason?
Tim: Really, just the geometries in the car with suspension settings, dampers. Catherine Crawford has been a really big help and has done a lot of damper work for us. I would say that's one of the biggest keys. Really, everything going into 2014 was brand new so it's been a process, but I think we showed the pace last year, especially towards the end.
How are optimistic are you two ahead of the Rolex 24? Is a podium possible?
Katherine Legge: I think we have the speed to make (a podium) a reality. The team has worked extremely hard on reliability. We've changed really every component on the car. If we have the reliability, I think we will, but it's a 24-hour race and a lot can happen. You can't account for other people's decisions. And you have to remember that we're relatively infant compared to the DPs, which have been around for 15 years.
I'm trying to be quietly confident. I think we've had one of the strongest driver lineups we've ever had.
Andy Meyrick: I think if we focus on our job, don't get drawn into any battles, the performance is undoubtedly there in clear aero and especially in traffic. If everyone does their job, I'm confident that we have the car underneath us to get the job done.
The reliability was fantastic (in Roar testing). The car didn't miss a beat over the three days we were here.
Both of you have been part of this program for three or four years. Why have you stuck with it?
Katherine: Money!" She joked, before adding: "It's been quite cool to be part of the development of the project. It's not often you get to develop a car and learn as much about components as you do with this so it definitely made me a better driver. The team is fantastic and also, driving for Don Panoz is a big honor. He is a legend within the sport. We're just now seeing the fruit of our work.
Andy: I love racing in America and I firmly believe in the car. I believe it can be capable of winning races and I want to be a part of that when it happens. It's been a lot of hard work by both the team and us, the drivers.
Making it to victory lane
Lastly, Motorsport.com wanted to know if scoring that first race win is a viable, realistic goal for 2016. The response from all three was an emphatic and unanimous "absolutely."
And in the first dry practice of the weekend on Friday morning, it was none other than the DeltaWing at the top of the charts.