DeltaWing Racing Cars team manager Tim Keene is optimistic the team has made the necessary performance strides to go along with reliability updates in the near two months since their last race at Road America.
The revised DeltaWing DWC13 coupe sports two major aerodynamic additions this week at Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda.
A new splitter accents the front of the car, while a new triangular appendage over the engine cover – termed a tail fin or “dolphin fin” – provides further stability.
In theory it may seem counterintuitive to the original DeltaWing concept, but as Keene explained, it is part of the development process.
“It certainly made the car a little bit different, having aero that it’s never had before,” Keene told Sportscar365. “There’s a little less understeer and we’re more glued to the track. There should be a little more to come.”
In first practice, the DeltaWing ended fourth overall with a best time of 1:15.661, just 0.574 seconds off the session-leading Corvette DP. There was 1.572-second of a gap in second practice, but it came back down to 0.502 seconds by the night practice.
The trio of Andy Meyrick, Katherine Legge and Gabby Chaves are driving this weekend.
Keene estimated time was still available to be found, and guarded against reading too much into any practice time.
The team tested a couple weeks ago with the new aero parts. The overall performance gains may not be as evident, Keene said, because the car’s reduced fuel cell limits its as-designed intended performance advantage.
“We’re in the same class, but not really able to compete the way the car was designed to compete, based on fuel efficiency and other items,” Keene said. “That’s been taken away with a reduced fuel cell, so we can only run the same time as the other P cars.
“From the outside, you can’t see we have an advantage on fuel mileage, because we pit at the same time. So that whole green effect of running longer gets thrown out the window. Our hand has been forced.
“But still, we need to up our game. It’s not a significant amount but we need a bit in the front that we didn’t have before. We’re trying to be as competitive as we can in the class we’re meant to be in.”
As the DeltaWing heads into the offseason, plans are afoot to not only continue the program, but have its next test before the end of the calendar year. The aero updates, for now, are just for Petit Le Mans but could continue.
“Further testing all depends on development,” he said. “The gearbox is coming along, we’ll have that before December, plus the components in house.
“Theoretically, I’d like to think we could track test in Florida mid-December, sometime before Christmas would be ideal. That’s the plan.”
While the driver lineup is yet to be determined, Indy Lights champion Chaves is working towards a similar endurance race program in 2015 with the team in addition to his pursuit of a full-season IndyCar ride.
As for this weekend, Keene hopes the DeltaWing can deliver a big result on home soil in front of managing partner Don Panoz.
“The series and racing in general needs something exciting like this, that ‘wow factor’ where something runs different and can run up front,” he said. “Right now, we’re focused to do as good as we can here for the hometown crowd.”