DeltaWing officially out of Rolex after strong early start

BY foxsports • January 30, 2016

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Katherine Legge drove the DeltaWing car into the lead in the early stages of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, but a bizarre accident ended its race with more than 20 hours remaining.

Legge led two times for 27 laps in the opening stint of the twice-round-the-clock endurance event at Daytona International Speedway. It was a surprising development considering the struggles DeltaWing has had since its 2014 Daytona launch.

But it was not to be as Andy Meyrick crashed the DeltaWing into a stalled car on the track to end its chances at a win. The team said it had lost radio communication with Meyrick on the lap he hit the Starworks Motorsport entry.

Legge had been hopeful after her stint that this would be the year the DeltaWing made its mark.

''We have a great car but with a great car comes a lot of pressure,'' she said. ''We're more reliable than we've ever been and we've changed all the components. It's going to be luck, it's going to be attrition, it's going to be whether anyone drives into us, the normal stuff. But I think we're a lot closer to being there.''

The lightweight, chrome car turns heads because it looks like a cross between a fighter jet, a concept car and something out of a comic book. But its 2014 debut was plagued by a myriad of problems and the car retired after 16 hours.

A broken gearbox 90 minutes into last year's event ended the day for the DeltaWing.

Legge was barely out of the car when trouble hit. Chris Cumming stalled the Starworks car and Meyrick plowed into him before the DeltaWing ricocheted into a tire barrier.

Cumming was treated and released from the infield care center, but IMSA officials said he was not cleared to resume racing.

The race had a rough launch for Chip Ganassi's new two-car GT program as both entries had early problems. Ryan Briscoe was plagued with a broken gear box just eight laps into the race. He had to take the Ford to the garage for repairs.

Meanwhile, Joey Hand seemed to have an electrical issue that was eventually resolved. But after Hand turned the car over to Sebastien Bourdais, it suffered a gear box problem that sent Bourdais to the garage.

It was ill-timed misfortune for the new Ford program. Team owner Ganassi had said Friday that the cars had been heavily tested during the offseason with almost no issues and he worried that the problems would crop up on race day.

''I know he had said that he was afraid we hadn't had too many issues, and I guess he was right,'' Briscoe said. ''The car has been running so well in testing, we've been logging a lot of miles and it's been awesome. Now it's catching a few surprises and we'll learn from them.''

Then trouble hit Ganassi's ''star car,'' which is the defending race champion. Jamie McMurray was behind the wheel when he was spun by another car, and it dropped the team to ninth in the running order. Ganassi, watching from a tent on pit road, had a look of disgust on his face.

This is the final race for Ganassi's Prototype program as he shifts his focus to the two new GT's. It's part of Ford's return to Le Mans on the 50th anniversary of the manufacturer going 1-2-3 in the prestigious race. Ganassi's GT entries are the cornerstone of Ford's return.

Meanwhile, Jordan Taylor had a trouble-free stint for Wayne Taylor Racing, which worried Taylor was not healthy enough to be productive in the race. Taylor has been battling a pair of infections for more than two weeks, and the team brought in Rubens Barrichello at the 11th hour as a contingency plan.

''I felt fine,'' Taylor said. ''Obviously it will be a bigger worry to see how I feel over a longer run because I only had five laps of practice. I felt normal in the car and just happy to do a full stint and do my part in the car.''