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 may have 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.

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.

The British driver was optimistic that the car would be reliable for the entire 24 hours, but she was barely out of the car when trouble hit. Chris Cumming stalled the Starworks Motorsport in the middle of the track and DeltaWing driver Andy Meyrick apparently had no idea the car was stopped. He plowed into Cumming's car before the DeltaWing ricocheted into a tire barrier.

It appeared to have heavy damage as track officials struggled to get it out of the tires.

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.

You May Like