British racing star Katherine Legge says that she hasn't given up hope of making a return to the IZOD IndyCar Series in this month's Indianapolis 500, despite exiting the series following a breakdown in relations with her former team Dragon Racing over the winter.
"I am desperately still trying to put a 500 deal together,” Legge said this week. “I am still talking to people and that's the goal for the moment."
Legge qualified in 30th place for last year's race at Indianapolis and went on to finish in 22nd position in her rookie appearance in the 'greatest spectacle in motorsport.' During the course of the year, she appeared in a total of ten of the 15 races in the 2012 season, with her best result of ninth place coming in the last outing of the year at Fontana.
The 32-year-old from Surrey, who previously raced in the Champ Car World Series and then moved to the German DTM championship, managed only a partial IndyCar season in 2012 because of Dragon Racing's engine deal with Lotus collapsing early in the year. That left her and team mate Sebastien Bourdais sharing only one Chevrolet engine between them for the rest of the season after Indianapolis.
Legge has been out of a regular racing spot since her acrimonious split with Jay Penske's team over the winter, which saw her replaced as Bourdais' team mate by Colombia's Sebastian Saavedra. Legge has confirmed that her breach of contract action against the team is still ongoing, adding that it is not in her nature to let such things go and that she is determined to carry on "fighting for what I believe in."
Since getting dropped by the IndyCar team, Legge has been trying out the distinctive DeltaWing in an April test at Road Atlanta and has since confirmed that she will make her début in the experimental prototype in the American Le Mans Series race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey on May 11.
She will take the place of Frenchman Olivier Pla whose extended racing schedule in Europe with OAK Racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship and with Porsche GT has forced him to drop out of the DeltaWing driver program after racing in the LMP1 class at Sebring in March.
Legge revealed that regular DeltaWing Racing team driver Andy Meyrick - another British talent, from Swansea in Wales - had given her some wise words of advice beforehand. "He said, 'Try not to preconceive how it drives by looking at it,'" Legge revealed to US motorsports blog Pressdog.com
"It was really exciting to get in the car [at Road Atlanta] for the first time," Legge told trackside reporters after her initial runs in the distinctive vehicle, which made its race bow in last year's Le Mans 24 Hours. "Having driven lots of types of racing cars, I didn't know what to expect, so I was very pleasantly surprised.
"It braked really well, it turned really positively, and it was really fast in a straight line. It drove like a really good racing car," she added. "It was very stable, and I also was impressed with the way it handled. It was really neat to get it going."
"She did a good job," said DeltaWing Racing team manager Dave Price. "Most of the time we were doing engine work, but Katherine got on with it and didn't make a fuss." The DeltaWing - which used Nissan power in 2012 - is now employing an engine from Elan Motorsports Technologies, a company operated by team owner Don Panoz.
But while Legge is enjoying the experience of trying out the innovative light-weight DeltaWing and of getting back out on track in race trim, she says that she remains crystal clear about her priorities - even though her DeltaWing outing falls on the same weekend as Opening Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"I really want to do the 500, I've been pushing very hard to do that and then who knows what will happen," she said when asked about her plans beyond that. "If the DeltaWing develops into a long-term opportunity or something else comes along, I have no idea."
But Legge said that despite the bitter taste left from the Dragon Racing fallout, she was more determined than ever to keep going and not give up her motorsport ambitions. "I need to get back to winning races," she told Pressdog.com.
. "For a while now I haven't been in a car that has been able to do that.
"What I want is the opportunity to do what I am capable of," she insisted. "I want to earn just one year, just one opportunity to prove to myself what I am capable of.
"I was down for a while, but I picked myself up and I dusted myself off and I am back to fighting," she added. "Life is what you make it. You make your own opportunities and you have to do everything within your power to fulfill your dreams."
Legge's compatriot Pippa Mann announced on Tuesday that she had secured a race seat for the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 with Dale Coyne Racing, putting her alongside another Briton Justin Wilson in the squad and also Brazil's Ana Beatriz. That makes it the first time that two female drivers will have been entered as team mates in the Indy 500. (See separate story