It’s always fun to root for the underdog. While Ford was touting its new GT super sports car, and Chevy was strong-arming the field with its dominant Corvette, Mazda and DeltaWing seemingly got lost in the supercar shuffle. Even then, the two teams showed up, guns blazin’, with something to prove.
Gone is the diesel experiment that were last year’s prototypes; thankfully. Mazda decided a standard gas engine for both of its prototypes made more sense for 2016—and delivered more power. That change proved successful early.
While the number 70 Mazda prototype was knocked out early with a transmission issue, its number 55 teammate proved that it can keep up with the big manufacturers. Leading a number of laps, and staying towards the front most of the race, the Mazda team showed the world what they were capable of…for a bit.
At about 3:00AM, the number 55 Mazda was pushed into the garage with an undisclosed issue. After what seemed like ages of finagling, the Mazda team announced that the vehicle would be out of the race for good with a valve train issue. A shame.
For two hours, it seemed like the DeltaWing, piloted by Katherine Legge specifically, was unstoppable. It held a solid lead, and lapped the course in 1:39.874, the third fastest time of the day. After her long three hour stint, Katherine seemed extremely pleased by the progress a year made:
“We’re more reliable than we’ve ever been,” she told the press.
But it wasn’t reliability that would ruin the DeltaWing’s day. A car stopped on the track, combined with communication issues, caused the DeltaWing to crash nose first into the vehicle’s rear end. The resulting tub damage would end the DeltaWing’s run for the checkered.
While the race didn’t end like either team would have hoped, the two promise a more successful turnout for Sebring and the rest of the season. “They’d better be ready to deal with us [at Sebring!” Mazda Racing told us on Twitter.
Photo Credit: Jeff Perez for BoldRide