Like Ben Bowlby's new Nissan ZEOD tub, the DeltaWing Coupe has been constructed as a one-piece shell, but within the cabin, Marshall has gone in a different direction with a center-drive position for drivers Katherine Legge and Andy Meyrick.
“It's one piece,” Price confirmed. “We went down that route and it takes a bit longer to lay it up but it's the right way to do it. I mean, I've read what Ben said about their car, his offset driving position. But ours can comply very readily with the 2014 regulations. It's got all the side impact structures there. It complies with everything else, the doors. For us to move the seating to one side is a couple of hours work.
“Simon's taken all of that into consideration when it was designed. His view of putting the driver in the middle is, from a safety point of view, is that we don't have a lot of bodywork around the side to absorb energy like a conventional LMP car does. So his view was to put the driver in the middle to make them even safer.”
Panoz embarked upon a new engine program for 2013, switching to a Mazda-based powerplant from the Nissan unit that was used throughout the DeltaWing's first season. Once the Elan Power Products team got a handle on reliability, the turbocharged four-cylinder mill has been less of a concern, and with the car set to compete in the United SportsCar Championship next year, Price says they will pause engine development while IMSA's technical staff attempt to benchmark the car's performance against P2s and DPs.
“[IMSA technical boss] Scot Elkins came out to the shakedown to have a look just because he was in the area, and wanted to keep abreast to where we are,” he said. “Our engine development, for instance, is arrested, for want of a better word, in terms of power. We're not looking for any more power; we are satisfied with where our engine is.
“We're taking weight out of it, which is what we're doing now. We will have a lightweight engine before the end of the year. And so we're not looking for more power; just looking constantly to reduce mass.”
Earlier in the year, Panoz revealed his company was working on a massively ambitious method to reduce engine weight but, according to Price, the solution is still be developed.
“It is a fascinating element,” he remarked. “Don's come to some arrangement to do a carbon fiber block before I came on board. And that's a work in progress. It's something they're working on and we're just trying to concentrate on what we've got to do. I know Don's keen on it and it's been a work in progress, that's about all I can say, really.”
With the United Sportscar Championship technical team working to balance P2s and DPs, having to include the DeltaWing in the process will add another lather layer of complexity, but unlike the other prototypes, the arrow-like car isn't required to comply with every single aspect of the P2 rulebook. As a result, adjusting its performance to meet a specific performance levels can be done through increasing or decreasing its horsepower.
“It's a P2 car, not a P1 car, so where we'll stand with the other balance of performance, I don't know, but we have more options at our disposal to fit the other cars in the Prototype class than some of the other chassis, I imagine,” said Price. “We've got this balance of performance test in November which will shine the light on what's needed from us then.
“I would suggest that we are a very competitive P2 car option for next year. And the car is not expensive to run, it's not difficult to maintain. We will support the program, technically anyway, if anyone buys it. We're laying up three cars. We're not planning to flood the market with them but certainly get a couple more out there that should be plenty competitive.”
Once the Coupe completes its first race at COTA, Price hopes the DeltaWing will be seen and received as a worthy Prototype competitor, rather than the oddity among traditional sports car products. If potential buyers can make that leap in perception, Price believes the extra Coupe chassis could be sold.
“The difficulty is going to be people overcoming their prejudices against it because it's different,” he explained. “And I think that's what a lot of people will think: 'I'll go for the safe option.' Don, in the usual fashion, didn't go for the safe option and he's proved it to be a very viable option.
“It's not going to happen this week, next week; it may need to overcome a bit of skepticism at first. We need to establish where we are with this car for the three races that remain in this year. Don's planning to showcase the car for potential customers after Petit, and if everything goes well, we hope to have a few Coupes to contend with next year.”