Orders for new Champ Car presages expansion in 2007 Season
As many have anticipated, the introduction of the first new car to the Champ Car World Series in seven seasons has given the series an infusion of excitement as teams and drivers prepare for the 2007 season.
The new Panoz DP01 Champ Car will make its first on-track appearance in the hands of the series teams on January 23, running in the first of three open test sessions that Champ Car teams will use to prepare for the April 8 season-opening Vegas Grand Prix Fueled by Visa.
Twenty-five of the new cars have been ordered with teams putting down a substantial payment just to order one of the next-generation Champ Cars. Ten of those cars were delivered to the teams just before Christmas, with more being delivered as they roll out of the Elan Motorsports shop in Braselton, Georgia.
“Things are progressing according to plan and we feel good about where we are at this stage of the preseason,” said Champ Car President Steve Johnson. “You are going to see a number of exciting driver announcements in the coming weeks incorporating many of our celebrated veterans battling alongside some exciting newcomers in a title fight that will capture the attention of sports fans around the world.”
The Champ Car teams are currently finalizing driver and sponsor lineups for the chase of the 2007 Vanderbilt Cup, with the season opener still three full months away, but some of the top names in the sport are already signed and ready to take up the fight for one of the most prestigious titles in racing. Three-time and defending series champion Sebastien Bourdais will look to become the first driver ever to win four consecutive championships in an American open-wheel racing series.
In the second season of a five-year deal with Forsythe Championship Racing, Canadian superstar Paul Tracy will lead the charge in trying to dethrone Bourdais while 2006 Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year Will Power heads into 2007 with an eye on his first title charge. Newcomers to the Champ Car scene, Pacific Coast Motorsports, will have a pair of rookies in Ryan Dalziel and Alex Figge, but both drivers lead the series in preseason testing time, and have had at least two seasons apiece worth of seat time in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship, which is the top developmental series leading to Champ Car.
Minardi Team USA, PKV Racing, Newman/Haas Racing, Forsythe Championship Racing, Team Australia, Rocketsports, Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing, RuSPORT and Dale Coyne Racing are all preparing further sponsor and driver announcements for the 2007 season, with many announcements anticipated in the week leading up to the first open test. Each of those teams are anticipating having at least one car on track for the Jan 23-25 tests in Sebring, with more planning further expansion as the April 8 season opener approaches.