Sebring, Fla. (March 20, 2016) - British sportscar driver Andy Meyrick and the Panoz DeltaWing Racing team ran consistently in the Top Eight and as high as fourth position in the wildly changing conditions that marked the 64th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida. Fighting their way back from mid-race adversity and regaining their position on the lead lap, a failure in the steering box put the team out with only 17 minutes remaining in the 12-hour endurance classic, race two of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.
The oldest road racing track in the United States, Sebring International Raceway's 3.74 miles of concrete and asphalt are notoriously difficult on driver and machine. But severe thunderstorms in the area added an entirely different challenge to the racing equation. With teammates Katherine Legge and Sean Rayhall, Meyrick endured torrential rains and a red-flag delay of over two hours early in the race. Mid-race electronics issues put the car a lap down, but smart strategy and aggressive driving saw the team return to the fight until the steering failure ended the day, literally, in the eleventh hour.
Meyrick, 30, qualified the DeltaWing coupe in 11th position and took the green flag in warm and dry conditions. Meyrick made substantial gains both on the racetrack and in the pit lane by driving a smart and aggressive opening stint, while managing traffic,. But shortly after a speedy pit stop that put Meyrick into ninth place, a quick rain shower sent many teams into the pit lane for rain tires. Meyrick managed the slippery conditions perfectly, staying out on dry tires and gaining fourth position. But a subsequent downpour saturated the racing line and sent the car into the pit lane 90 minutes into the race for fuel, rain tires and a driver change to fellow Brit Legge.
"My first stint was good, going from 11th to fourth," said Meyrick. "The car was quick, consistent, trouble free - it was a perfect stint, really. There were no issues whatsoever. I got out at exactly the right time, given the issues with the weather. It was tough conditions in the middle of the race for everyone."
When lightning was spotted in the racetrack area and with downpours creating standing water, officials made the decision to red flag the race at 1:31 p.m. After a stoppage of just over two hours, Legge returned to the track and kept the car on the lead lap, handing over to Rayhall with the car in sixth position. The young American dealt with electronic issues early in his stint that required a change of the steering wheel and ECU, handing the car to Meyrick in seventh position and a lap down with two hours remaining.
Fighting visibility issues as oil continued to come off the racetrack, the Cheshire-born Meyrick fought his way through lapped traffic to gain sixth position. Through race management and aggressive driving, Meyrick and the team were able to get the car back on the lead lap, making their final pit stop with 25 minutes remaining. Returning to the fray in eighth position, Meyrick planned to hunt down the Mazdas just ahead when, entering turn one, the steering column locked up.
'With 17 minutes left and during a full course caution, I was running a normal line at normal speed into Turn 1 and at the apex, the steering locked up and snapped. Fortunately, I didn't hit anything but I couldn't bring the car back, since the steering was broken. It's a real shame. I'm very disappointed not to finish but I'm really impressed with what the team has done to get this far. To be in a position to finish on the lead lap here at Sebring - a circuit that is not a strong one for the car - is a testament to everyone's efforts and it bodes well for the rest of the season."
Next up for Meyrick and the DeltaWing team will be the Grand Prix of Long Beach,April 15-16. The race will air live in the U.S. at 7:00 p.m. ET on April 16, with live coverage in the U.K. on IMSA.tv.