- Associated Press - Sunday, January 26, 2014

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - DeltaWing’s Daytona debut was a dud, yet a relatively successful run for the upstart team.

The odd-looking chrome car had several issues in the first third of the Rolex 24 at Daytona and then retired after 16 hours because of transmission failure. Despite the problems, drivers were optimistic because the technologically advanced car went its farthest distance to date.

The prototype sports car logged 288 laps - 407 fewer than the race winner - and 1,035 miles in the endurance race. DeltaWing finished 61st out of 67 cars.

“It’s hard not to finish, but we know that we are heading in the right direction,” driver Katherine Legge said. “And it’s just a matter of continuing what we’re doing.”

The coupe made 18 trips to pit road and spent nearly 5 ½ hours getting repaired.

“It’s disappointing that we weren’t able to finish, but I think the car made it longer than it has in the past, so that’s a positive,” fellow driver Alexander Rossi said.

The car turned heads at Daytona International Speedway because of its unique appearance. It looks like a cross between a fighter jet, a concept car and something out of a comic book. It was the talk of the garage leading into the race - some positive, some negative - and had more mixed reviews on the track.

The lightweight car showed speed and handled well in traffic. But in the first eight hours of the twice-around-the-clock race, it also had gearbox issue, significant front-end damage caused by a single-car wreck and an engine malfunction.

Driver Gabby Chaves’ crash was on his first lap Saturday evening was the strangest of the troubles. The team swapped noses and returned to the road course, but ended up back in the garage a few hours later when a connector between the headers and the turbo broke.

Transmission damage Sunday morning ended the team’s race early.

So reliability remains a question, especially in longer events.

“If you look at the past results, the team knows what they need to do and are taking steps forward,” Chaves said. “That’s the positive.”

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