We’ve covered the saga of the DeltaWing rather extensively, but have somehow glossed over the point: it’s a race car, dang it. What is it like to actually drive? So, we asked the pair who will be racing the car at Circuit of the Americas. Interestingly, both drivers swear the funky looking car is actually pretty normal to drive.
Well, as normal as a prototype race car can be. “Normal” is a relative term here.
“For as different as it looks on the outside [compared] to other cars, it actually drives just like any other car does,” explained driver Memo Rojas.
Rojas explained that it’s just a well designed race car, but one built around a different philosophy. It’s really fast in a straight line, and its efficient aerodynamic design means that it has less drag than the more conventional prototypes. It can reach higher top speeds by relying less on downforce, too.
It’s a lot like the bizarre case of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge road car-based 911 reaching higher speeds than its purpose-built GTD-class race car counterparts in the United SportsCar series. Less aerodynamic drag = more whee on long straights and big bankings.
Inside the car tells the story: that’s much like a normal prototype cockpit. It looks like a spaceship compared to a road car, but all the normal elements of a race car are right there.
It doesn’t feel small — relatively speaking to other prototypes, of course. The cockpit looks pretty roomy to me, but then again, I tend to test cars’ trunk space out by climbing inside. Visibility is also pretty good. Onboards from the car show pretty thick pillars up front, but the drivers say the visibility is really no better or worse than any other closed-cockpit prototype racer.
Pit stops aren’t drastically different from any other car, either. If anything, Rojas said it’s easier on the mechanics since the wheels are lighter. The narrow front uses much narrower wheels and tires to fit that space unlike the other cars on the grid, but it doesn’t seem to affect turn-in or anything.
As for the development of the car for future seasons, “We’re both invested in making this car fast,” explained driver Katherine Legge. Much of the technology from the race car is going into DeltaWing’s plans to build a road car based around the same philosophy: make a super-efficient car with less drag, improving emissions and fuel consumption as a result.
This year, the gearbox has been the DeltaWing’s biggest recurring issue, but Rojas feels as if it’s sorted now. It took several races to fix the problem, but they’ve gone two races now with no issues.
Plus, Rojas explains, “I get to drive with Kat.” It’s the first time he’s had a female teammate, and the chemistry between the two seems to work.
“Same interests — mostly food,” explained Legge. Both drivers are avid foodies, and if the French toast in their hauler is any indication, they know all about the good stuff.
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