2007 fan guide - Autoweek

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2007 fan guide - Autoweek

AUTOWEEK > FAN GUIDE CONTENTS

PAGE 22 > WRC

NEED TO KNOW: THE YEAR’S

TOP STORY LINES

6 FORMULA ONE

10 INDY RACING LEAGUE

15 CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES

18 AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES

20 GRAND-AM SPORTS CAR SERIES

22 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

23 CHAMP CAR ATLANTIC

26 INDY PRO SERIES

27 SPEED WORLD CHALLENGE

> PHOTOS BY LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC

FEATURES

4 THE HOTTEST SEAT Kimi Raikkonen takes his ballistic speed to Ferrari.

BY NIGEL ROEBUCK

8 STILL THE MAN TO BEAT Defending Indy Racing League champion Sam

Hornish Jr. has plenty left in his tank. BY CURT CAVIN

12 OUT OF THE BOX Champ Car’s new Panoz DP01 race car rolls at Sebring prior

to the season opener. BY ERIC TEGLER

14 RAHAL 2.0 Graham Rahal follows father Bobby’s footsteps into Champ Car.

BY STEVEN COLE SMITH

16 IN NAME ONLY The American Le Mans Series’ LMP2 prototype division is the

real No. 1. BY ERIC TEGLER

19 PARTY TIME . . . EXCELLENT Wayne Taylor takes over SunTrust Racing and

guns for the Grand-Am title. BY STEVEN COLE SMITH

TEAMS AND DRIVERS

28 FORMULA ONE

29 INDY RACING LEAGUE

30 AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES

32 CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES

33 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

34 GRAND-AM SPORTS CAR SERIES

36 INDY PRO SERIES

37 CHAMP CAR ATLANTIC

38 SPEED WORLD CHALLENGE

SEASON SCHEDULES

39 FORMULA ONE

40 CHAMP CAR ATLANTIC

42 INDY RACING LEAGUE

43 AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES

44 CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES

45 GRAND-AM SPORTS CAR SERIES

46 WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

47 INDY PRO SERIES

48 SPEED WORLD CHALLENGE


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2007 FAN GUIDE > FORMULA ONE

THE ICE MAN

COMETH

KIMI RAIKKONEN STRAPS INTO

FORMULA ONE’S MOST HIGH-

PROFILE SEAT

BY NIGEL ROEBUCK

THERE ARE THOSE AT THE

McLaren Formula One team who

believe Kimi Raikkonen is the

fastest driver the company has ever

employed—and yes, heretical as it may

seem, that includes the late Ayrton Senna.

That said, no one thinks he’s the best Mc-

Laren driver ever. As team boss Ron Dennis

said, “If we’d done a better job, Kimi would

have won two world championships. But I’ll

say also he could sometimes have contributed

more, in terms of how he looked after the car.”

“Overall, Kimi raced well,” said managing

director Martin Whitmarsh. “There were

times when he was touched by genius and

times when he was . . . less so, but it’s only

human for performance to fluctuate to some

extent, isn’t it? There were times when we

let him down, too.”

4FG AUTOWEEK FAN GUIDE

McLaren people speak of Raikkonen with

a sense of frustration at a partnership that

should have yielded more than it did. Nine

wins in five seasons was not what anyone

had in mind.

Lest you forget, Raikkonen was remarkably

inexperienced when he joined McLaren in

2002. Previously, he’d completed a single F1

season (with Sauber) and ran in Formula

Renault prior to that.

Raikkonen made a remarkable impression

at Sauber. His first Grand Prix was only the

24th car race of his life, yet he finished sixth.

As Mika Hakkinen seemed ever more likely

to retire at the end of ’02, McLaren looked

increasingly upon this new Finn as his

replacement. Out came the checkbook,

and the deal was done.

Raikkonen may be startlingly quick, but

THE

he is also a quirky fellow. Many remarks

concern his demeanor after a race. He may

have won or blown up or crashed out, and

it makes no perceptible difference to his

behavior, as if many of the normal human

responses have been switched off. Hence

the “Ice Man” tag.

Once he was installed at McLaren, it was

soon apparent that, although he was a friend

of Hakkinen, Raikkonen was a very different

type. Where Hakkinen had been a company

man to his bones, Raikkonen went his own

way.

“Raikkonen,” said a McLaren man,

“listens to no one—no one at all.”

That being so, his private life—unusually

colorful for a contemporary F1 driver and

much at odds with his professional persona—

has been the subject of considerable debate.


ICE MAN COMETH

KIMI RAIKKONEN

STRAPS INTO

FORMULA ONE’S

MOST HIGH-

PROFILE SEAT

BY NIGEL ROEBUCK

Raikkonen likes to drink and have a good

time with his friends, and not always in

typical F1 privacy.

“When Kimi arrived, he looked like an

instant star,” said Williams chief Frank

Williams, “but he hasn’t taken it seriously

enough, and I think that’s a crying shame.”

On those occasions when management

has tried to discuss these issues, Raikkonen

has been far from abashed—indeed, he’s

been angry at any attempt to intrude into his

life away from the track. “It doesn’t make

me any slower,” he says. “It’s my private

life, and what I do in the car is completely

different.”

Unless, of course, the day comes when

folks begin to mutter that perhaps the one

is having an effect on the other. “Kimi is

very independent,” said Whitmarsh. “He’s

not going to be dictated to by anyone.”

“Maybe,” said Williams, “Jean Todt can

sort him out.”

As of now, Raikkonen is a Ferrari driver,

and thus far, Todt’s attitude is avuncular:

“The Finns like to drink from time to time.

Raikkonen will get a lot of attention and

affection at Ferrari.”

Things have changed significantly

at Maranello, and the world is watchful

of Ferrari, not only without Michael

Schumacher but also without the calming

hand of technical director Ross Brawn,

who is taking a year off.

“Periodically,” said Niki Lauda, “Ferrari

need to rebuild themselves. Will they do it

this time as well as they did it with Michael,

or will it be the same old Italian chaos?”

Lauda knows whereof he speaks, having

done something of a Schumacher job at

Ferrari in 1974.

“Raikkonen can drive fast,” said Lauda,

“but he can’t do anything else, so if the car’s

not absolutely competitive, there could be

problems. Ferrari is an emotional team,

not like McLaren. They need the human

component, and Michael was ideal in that

way. I can’t see Kimi being the same.”

Former champion Keke Rosberg, who

knows a thing or two about Finnish racing

drivers, has few doubts, however. “Kimi,”

he said, “is the fastest driver in F1. Period.

He won’t have the same relationship with

Ferrari that Michael had, because he won’t

live with the team in the same way. If

the results don’t come fairly quickly, who

knows what’ll happen? But if they do,

nothing else will matter.” n

AUTOWEEK FAN GUIDE 5FG


F1

> ALONSO AT McLAREN

After four brilliantly successful

seasons with Renault, backto-back

world champion

Fernando Alonso moves to

McLaren, which last won a

race in ’05. Will his unique

driving style—with an almost

vicious initial steering turn-in—

translate from the Renault to

the McLaren chassis? And

will he be truly competitive for

the first time at his bogey

track, Indianapolis? For now,

assume the answer to both

questions is yes.

> EVERYONE ON

BRIDGESTONES

Not since 1996, when all the

teams ran on Goodyear rubber,

has one tire manufacturer had

an F1 monopoly. Bridgestone

will supply all the teams this

year and inevitably will build

harder compounds than in the

recent past, when it competed

against Michelin. The drivers say

the new tires make the cars

trickier to drive, particularly

under braking and on corner

entry. Look for more driver

errors.

> ADRIAN NEWEY’S

RED BULL

After distinguished spells

with Williams and McLaren

(designing championshipwinning

cars for both), Adrian

Newey produces his first car for

Red Bull Racing. A car from

Newey—with the same tires as

6FG AUTOWEEK FAN GUIDE

everyone else and a Renault

engine—always tends to

worry the competition and

could move RBR well up

the grid.

> REVS LIMITED

When the FIA reduced

engine capacity last year,

from 3.0 liters to 2.4 and

from 10 cylinders to eight,

some feared that the endless

quest for more power,

TALKING POINTS

in the form of engine revs,

would send development

costs into orbit. Some engines

(which have to last two

complete race weekends)

were revving to 20,000; the

FIA has restricted them to

19,000. Some call it dumbing

down, but some hope it

will make for closer racing.

> HAMILTON ARRIVES

McLaren newcomer Lewis

Hamilton—the first black

driver in F1—has caused a

media storm in Europe.

Team boss Ron Dennis

says he hopes this will die

down swiftly. “Race is not

an issue here, as far as

McLaren is concerned.

Lewis is in the car for one

reason only: We think he’s

the best driver available to

partner Fernando Alonso.”

Indeed, Hamilton is a

proven winner in junior

formulas, but it’s daunting

to be a rookie in a top team,

let alone as partner to the

world champion.

> KOVALAINEN:

FINLAND’S LATEST

Heikki Kovalainen—who

famously beat Michael

Schumacher and Sebastien

Loeb in the Race of Champions

in Paris two years ago—has yet

to race an F1 car, but such is

his latent promise that some

believe he might do what

Giancarlo Baghetti did back in

1961 and win on his Grand Prix

debut. The odds are stacked

against him, of course, but don’t

be surprised when he starts

winning. Renault thinks it might

have another Alonso on its

hands.

> TOYOTA PROGRESS

AT LAST?

Six seasons in F1, with a

budget probably unmatched

even by Ferrari, and Toyota has

remarkably little to show for it.

Not a victory on the board yet.

Ralf Schumacher and Jarno

Trulli have had their stunning

days, but not very often, and a

year ago, Toyota unfathomably

dispensed with technical

director Mike Gascoyne, who

may have offended Japanese

sensibilities with his impatience

but knows about F1 cars. Will a

Nextel Cup victory come before

a Grand Prix win? Don’t bet

against it. —NIGEL ROEBUCK


Contact us at 1-800-PORSCHE or porscheusa.com. ©2007 Porsche Cars North America, Inc. Porsche recommends seat belt usage and observance of all traffic laws at all times.

Drivers: start your reason for being.

Porsche racing. What else matters? This year the RS Spyder is poised to add to our unrivaled 70

American Le Mans Series class victories and eight manufacturer’s titles. Last year Porsche returned to the

ALMS circuit with authority, scoring 7 out of 10 victories in the LMP2 class, as well as a one-two overall

finish at Mid-Ohio – the first such finish in series history. The 2007 season will also feature a number

of high-caliber teams, including: Penske Racing and Dyson Racing, fielding the advanced RS Spyder,

as well as Flying Lizard, Tafel Racing and Rahal Letterman Racing, campaigning the 911 GT3 RSR.

Porsche seeks a record 71st ALMS class victory

at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, March 14-17


2007 FAN GUIDE > IRL

8FG AUTOWEEK FAN GUIDE

Sam

I Am

HORNISH SAYS

HIS BEST IS

YET TO COME

BY CURT CAVIN

SAM HORNISH JR. HAS

won three Indy Racing League

championships and the Indianapolis

500, but none of those championships

came in what he considers

his finest season. That is part of the reason

the “Rick Mears of his generation” thinks

his best year is yet to come.

Hornish wastes no time talking about the

virtues of his 2003 season, which ended

with Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon winning

the IRL championship in a five-way battle

in the final race. Hornish, then in his final

season with Panther Racing, was one of

the few drivers trying to compensate for

Chevrolet’s underpowered engine. He did

his best, winning three races.

Two engine failures (at Indianapolis

and Texas) were the only mechanical

failures among the top five drivers that

year. Hornish still went to the last few

laps of the season with a chance to win the

title, but he ended up fifth in the standings

when his engine gave up in that Texas race.

“That year, in my opinion, I don’t think I

made any mistakes in the race that cost us

points,” he said.

Hornish counts two mistakes in last

year’s championship effort: a lap-costing

spin on an early restart at Watkins Glen and

a crash in the oval race at Nashville that he

attributes to “not being patient” enough.


Hornish, 27, has every reason to be

patient heading into this year’s 17-race

season. He continues to drive for the best

team in the sport (Penske Racing), and he

has continuity on his side. This is his fourth

year in Roger Penske’s organization.

Last season’s Indy 500 win relieved

Hornish of the stress of having never won

the most important race of his life, and the

third series championship gave him two

more than anyone in the IRL’s 11 seasons.

For a while, at least, Hornish can exhale

and enjoy life as the most decorated Indy car

driver going.

“It’s a great feeling, too, not that we’re

satisfied,” Hornish said. “But a lot of the

pressure that I put on myself is gone, at least

for now.”

That freedom has allowed Hornish

to explore NASCAR through Penske’s stock

car team; he is planning to run about a

dozen Busch Series events this season with

an eye toward participating in next year’s

Daytona 500. But Hornish already has told

his boss and their sponsors that he will give

up his second career the moment it starts

distracting from his first. He means it, too.

“I’m an Indy car driver first and foremost,”

he said.

Hornish continues to work on his game.

He admittedly had a lack of road-course

experience in big cars such as those in the

IRL, so when he joined Penske in 2004, he

began capitalizing on all the seat time he

could get. Most of that time was spent in

one of the team’s old CART cars, but

Hornish also ran in the recent Rolex 24

Hours of Daytona sports car enduro.

Tony Kanaan, Indy car racing’s 2004

champion, said the benefits of all this road

racing are obvious to everyone who watches

Hornish drive.

“When you have talent and you’re

born with talent, I think you just need

development, and the guy has talent, there

is no doubt,” Kanaan said. “He’s a very

capable race car driver. It was unfair to

him when we went to road courses at first,

because we all had so much experience, and

he didn’t, so he had to catch up.

“That’s why Penske got him in every car

he could possibly drive on a road course, and

he became as good as us now.”

With an oval prowess matched by only a

few, Hornish figures to be the driver to beat

in 2007.

“I would pick between the four red cars,”

Hornish said, referring to the Penske and

Ganassi cars driven by himself and Helio

Castroneves at Penske and by Dixon and

Dan Wheldon at Ganassi. “But I feel I have

a great opportunity to come back and do

well. I’ve made a lot of improvement on the

road courses.”

“SAM IS ONE OF

THOSE DRIVERS

WHO COULD

PROBABLY DRIVE

JUST ABOUT

ANYTHING. IT’S

NOT BLACK MAGIC,

THOUGH, IT’S JUST

RACING, AND HE’S

A RACER.”

–JOHNNY RUTHERFORD

Hornish and Wheldon actually tied

for the points lead last season, with

Wheldon leading more laps (a series-high

761 to Hornish’s 655), but Hornish won

the trophy by virtue of having two more

race wins (four to Wheldon’s two). As

was the case in 2003, Hornish’s car was

more prone to mechanical failure; his

engine failure at Michigan was the

only such problem among the title

contenders.

“It shouldn’t have come down to as

close as it was,” Hornish said of the last-lap

fight with Wheldon at Chicagoland that

ended in the points tie when Wheldon

won the race and Hornish finished third.

“[Wheldon] was very fast, had a lot of great

opportunities all season and did very well,

but when it came down to it, we did what

we needed to do.”

Hornish has done what is necessary for

years. He has won three of the IRL’s four

closest races in history and has 18 race wins

in all.

“Sam is one of those drivers who could

probably drive just about anything,” the

legendary Johnny Rutherford said. “It’s

not black magic, though, it’s just racing,

and he’s a racer.”

And if Hornish is correct in his own

assessment, his best season might just be

around the next corner. n

AUTOWEEK FAN GUIDE 9FG


IRL

> ALWAYS DANICA

Danica Patrick has a new team for

her third Indy car season. She’s

partnered with Tony Kanaan,

Dario Franchitti and Marco

Andretti at Andretti Green Racing,

and the pressure will be on her to

win her first race. The question is,

can she?

Not only will she have to

finish ahead of three talented

teammates (and a fourth, Michael

Andretti, at Indy), but there are

also Sam Hornish Jr., Helio

Castroneves, Dan Wheldon,

Scott Dixon, Vitor Meira, Tomas

Scheckter, Scott Sharp and

Buddy Rice, among others, to

contend with.

Patrick never has finished

better than fourth in an Indy car,

and she has not won a race since

her karting days. And remember

this: The Penske and Ganassi

teams beat AGR soundly in 2006.

She’ll need that gap to close in

order to have a chance to win.

> MARCO IS

THE REAL DEAL

Many questioned Michael

Andretti’s sanity when he

promoted his 19-year-old son

to Indy cars last season, but

the kid delivered, nearly taking

the Indy 500 before winning

the California road-course race

at Infineon Raceway with a

strong drive. Now Marco

considers himself a title

contender, and there’s every

reason to believe he will have

10FG AUTOWEEK FAN GUIDE

a chance to be in the hunt.

He should get off to a

better start than he did last

year, when he struggled

getting the car off pit road.

The IRL did him a favor

by adding another road

course (Mid-Ohio) and a

street course (Detroit),

circuits that should favor

him. He had the best car

at Watkins Glen last year

before running into Eddie

Cheever.

TALKING POINTS

> THE AGR

SPOTLIGHT

Are there enough television

cameras for AGR?

Franchitti’s re-signing

means his wife, Ashley Judd

(below), will return, and

Michael Andretti’s new wife

is 2000 Playmate of the

Year Jodi Ann Paterson.

Then there’s Marco

Andretti, a star in the

making and a Formula One

hopeful. Plus, his father will

return to the Indy 500 lineup

after finishing third last year.

Last but not least is

Patrick. If she’s not already

the most-photographed IRL

personality, we don’t know

who is.

> SAM HE IS

Sam Hornish Jr. is the Rick

Mears of his generation.

The 27-year-old driver from

Defiance, Ohio (below),

has won three Indy car

championships in six years,

plus the Indy 500. With

Team Penske’s strength, he

will be the one to beat again in

2007.

If that’s not enough, Hornish

will take NASCAR for a limited

test drive this season with a yetto-be-determined

number of

races (probably 10) in the latter

part of the year. Look for him at

the Brickyard, too, where a

once-unthinkable 500/400

double could be on the line.

> ALWAYS

SOMETHING NEW

The Indy 500 keeps reinventing

itself.

Hornish’s pass of Marco

Andretti just ahead of the

checkered flag was the first lastlap

pass for the lead in the

event’s 90-year history, and it

ranked No. 1 among several

motorsports lists for 2006.

There has been sufficient

talk of the race not attracting the

traditional 33 starters, but with

the regular season expected

to have between 20 and 23

participants, a full field seems

achievable.

And there is the possibility of

three females competing—

Patrick, Sarah Fisher and rookie

Milka Duno—another first.

—CURT CAVIN


2007 FAN GUIDE > CHAMP CAR

FEELS LIKE A CHAMP CAR

THE PANOZ DP01 IS

REFRESHINGLY NEW AND

ASSURINGLY FAMILIAR

>>

THIS

The Panoz DP01

SEASON’S

Champ Car drivers

have a new ride.

replaces the Lola B2K/00, which

served the series well for the

past six years. Replete with

some Formula One-inspired

visual cues, the DP01 looks

impressive. But is it a proper

Champ Car?

We dropped in on the series’

first winter test at Sebring, where

new faces peered out from the

new cars, including 2006 Champ

Car Atlantic champion Simon

Pagenaud and runner-up Graham

Rahal. There were veterans, too,

such as Paul Tracy. With 15

seasons and a championship

under his belt, few are better

qualified to explain the essence

of a Champ Car.

Tracy says a Champ Car is

“a car that’s never really superstuck

like an F1 car. You don’t

have really soft tires. It has a lot

of midrange punch and top-end

12FG AUTOWEEK FAN GUIDE

BY ERIC TEGLER

power. There’s a little bit of turbo

lag. It’s a good car, a fast car.”

The DP01 is fast. After three

days of testing on Sebring’s short

course, it was within less than a

second of the unofficial track

record held by the old Lola.

“It seems to work well right

out of the box, but the aero is a

lot different,” Tracy reports. “It

has more rearward downforce

than we had before. It’s quicker

down the straightaway, and

we’re seeing higher top speeds,

so it’s a little more slippery than

the Lola.”

Credit the car’s revised shape,

drawn by Elan Motorsports

Technologies’ chief aerodynamicist,

Nicholas Alcock.

You might expect Alcock to

have achieved aero slickness by

freely sketching a new profile.

Not quite, says DP01 chief

designer Simon Marshall.

The Panoz is slightly narrower

than the Lola and a tad shorter

to the top of the roll hoop, and it

has less overall length but

weighs the same. A significant

proportion of the design is based

on what Champ Car wanted its

new mount to look like. “They

gave us a brief, and when we got

the contract, we worked hard

with them on the aesthetics of

the car,” Marshall says.

In a sense, the DP01 was

styled. There’s an F1-like dropnose

and raised cockpit sides.

There’s a large, downforcegenerating

undertray, cooling

louvers and pinched-in sidepods.

The engine cover profile is

classic Champ Car, but the rearwing

end plates resemble those

of Indy Racing League cars, and

not by complete coincidence.

Panoz has supplied IRL

chassis since 1997, and Marshall

acknowledges the experience

influenced the DP01’s design.

You can see circle-track

thinking in its bodywork, and

yes, the DP01 was designed to

run on ovals in the event that

Champ Car returns to such a

track or—don’t dare think it—

unifies with the IRL.

“Because you’re doing over

200 mph on the ovals, the bodywork

needs to seal very tightly,”

Forsythe Racing technical

director Eric Zeto points out.

“[Panoz] uses a screw-type

fastener called a Tridair,

whereas the Lola used cam

locks. Cam locks don’t fit as

tightly, but they’re quick,

quarter-turn fasteners. Tridairs

take about two turns, and there

are more of them, so sidepod

removal is taking longer.”

Indeed, the new package

retains much of the familiar,

incorporating the basic

Cosworth engine, suspension

and gearbox of years past.

Champ Car has gone farther

down the “spec” path, limiting

shock and wheelbase adjustment

to improve competition,

cut costs and bolster reliability.

There are new brake assem-


CHASSIS

Molded carbon fiber/

honeycomb composite

monocoque

DIMENSIONS

WHEELBASE (IN): 123

TRACK (IN): 69.2 front,

64.7 rear

LENGTH/WIDTH/

HEIGHT (IN):

190/78/38 (approx.)

WEIGHT (LBS): 1565

(dry)

CAPACITIES

FUEL (GAL): 35

SUSPENSION

FRONT: Doublewishbone,pushrodactuated,

inboard

spring/damper

REAR: Doublewishbone,pushrodactuated,

inboard

spring/damper

BRAKES/

WHEELS/TIRES

Discs front and rear,

no ABS, BBS forged

aluminum 254/25.8R-15

front, 368/28R-15 rear,

Bridgestone Potenza

STANDING-START

ACCELERATION

0-60 MPH: 2.2 sec

0-100 MPH: 4.2 sec

0-QUARTER-MILE: 10 sec

@ 100 mph

ROLLING

ACCELERATION

20-40 MPH: 1.5 sec

(first gear)

*SPECS/DATA PROVIDED BY FORSYTHE RACING

60-80 MPH: 1.7 sec

(second gear)

BRAKING

60-0 MPH: 90 ft

HANDLING

LATERAL ACCELERATION:

4 g at speed

INTERIOR

NOISE (DBA)

IDLE: 100 (iPod at

maximum volume)

FULL THROTTLE: 110

(front row of a rock

concert)

THRESHOLD OF PAIN:

130

FUEL MILEAGE

RACE PACE: 1.8 mpg

2007 PANOZ DP01

MANUFACTURER INFO

Elan Motorsports Technologies

1394 Broadway Avenue

Braselton, GA 30517

INTERNET ADDRESS:

www.elanmotorsports.com

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United States

BASE PRICE: $240,000 (chassis,

not including gearbox, dampers,

wiring loom, engine lease)

OWNERS PAID:

$240,000

blies from Performance Friction

and new aluminum BBS wheels

with durability that exceeds

that of previous components.

The ubiquitous “pop-off valve”

turbo pressure regulator has

been supplanted by electronics,

and onboard starters (as yet

untested) add another wrinkle.

Tracy compares the cockpit

favorably with the Lola and,

despite his feet being a bit

higher, doesn’t perceive the

difference. With slightly more

room, Justin Wilson appeared to

squeeze his six-foot-three frame

in more easily. The only major

cockpit differences are a starter

button and a neutral select

switch on the steering wheel,

plus the paddle shifters.

They’ll take some getting

used to. Tracy admits he

reached for the old shift lever a

couple of times the first day, but

the real problem, he says, is that

he’s outperforming the gearbox.

Hewland, Cosworth and

ENGINE

Mid-longitudinal, 2.65-liter/

161.7-cid turbo V8

HORSEPOWER: 750 @ 11,200 rpm

(800 with Power2Pass)

TORQUE: 350 lb-ft @ 11000 rpm

COMPRESSION RATIO: 11.5:1

FUEL REQUIREMENT: Methanol

(99 octane)

DRIVETRAIN

Rear-wheel drive

TRANSMISSION: Hewland 7-speed,

pneumatic paddle-shift

Pi Research collaborated on

the new transmission, which

essentially pairs the existing

box with pneumatic paddle

actuation. It’s a hybrid—good

but not F1-spec. “The car’s

braking capability is better than

the gearbox’s ability to downcycle

quickly enough through

the gears,” Tracy maintains.

The engineers see the problem

differently.

“They just want to hammer

it like it’s a little PlayStation

paddle shifter,” Zeto says,

chuckling. “There’s no feedback,

but the limitations of the gearbox

prevent you from shifting as

fast as your fingers will move.”

So the box will get quicker,

and the drivers will adapt. As

Tracy says, “It feels like a

Champ Car.”

For the drivers, that’s the

most important thing. For

spectators, it’s nice to know

that while the car has changed,

much remains the same. c

AUTOWEEK FAN GUIDE 13FG


2007 FAN GUIDE > CHAMP CAR

>>

DESPITE THE FACT THAT HALF

of the Champ Car World Series’

scheduled 16 races for 2007 are

outside the United States, let’s face it, this is an

American series. And undeniably, the central

rallying point last season for U.S. fans was the

presence of driver A.J. Allmendinger, who won

five races despite changing teams early in the

season and moving on to another series before

Champ Car’s season ended.

That series is, of course, NASCAR Nextel

Cup, where Allmendinger’s longtime personal

sponsor, Red Bull, and new NASCAR Cup

competitor Toyota made him an offer he couldn’t

refuse and his generous, well-funded team,

Forsythe Racing, couldn’t match.

With the only full-time American Champ Car

driver gone from the grid, who is there to root

for?

“Well,” said Allmendinger, “Graham Rahal will

certainly bear watching, after what he did last

year.”

The son of former Champ Car champion and

Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, Graham

did for the Champ Car Atlantic Series in 2006

what Allmendinger did for Champ Car: kept a

Frenchman, who eventually won the series title,

honest. Rahal lost the Atlantic championship to

Simon Pagenaud, though the patient Pagenaud

won just one race to Rahal’s five. Pagenaud is a

14FG AUTOWEEK FAN GUIDE

GRAHAM RAHAL tests a Newman-Haas Champ Car >

SPEED GENES

GRAHAM RAHAL GIVES CHAMP CAR ITS OWN

SECOND-GENERATION STAR STEVEN COLE SMITH

protégé of three-time Champ Car champion

Sebastien Bourdais, whom Allmendinger

dogged all season.

Recall Allmendinger’s headline-making

statement last September. “No way I’m letting

a French guy clinch on American soil,” he

declared (tongue in cheek) in Road America’s

victory lane, after becoming the first American

driver to win a Champ Car race there since

1996. The win delayed Bourdais’ formal

championship declaration until the next race.

Whether or not we can expect that sort of

performance from Rahal is unclear, but he has

some advantages and some obstacles. Age—he

turned 18 in January—and the resulting lack of

experience make up his central disadvantage.

Maturity does not seem much of an issue.

Advantages include good genes and the fact

that his Atlantic experience last year means he

raced on most of the same tracks as Champ Car

did. Also helpful is that all Champ Car teams

move to a new car this season, leaving the

venerable Lola for the Panoz DP01. And finally,

the biggest advantage is Rahal’s team. He’ll

drive for Newman-Haas, the same as Bourdais,

replacing hard-luck driver Bruno Junqueira.

Though Rahal has not been formally announced

as the Newman-Haas driver at press time, all

involved say it’s a done deal.

Indeed, Rahal has tested with Newman-Haas,

and he looks good. At the MSR Houston road

course, he completed more than 150 laps and

posted the second-fastest time of the two-day

test, with a lap of one minute and 10.079

seconds, edged out only by Team Australia’s

Will Power and his lap of 1m 10.040s. Bourdais,

incidentally, was fourth. “The car is getting

there,” Rahal said, “and I think it will continue to

surprise people as it gets faster and faster. It’s

enjoyable to drive.”

Rahal brings one additional advantage to

Champ Car: Driving in the Atlantic series last

year, he has a little experience with standing

starts—something Champ Car will try this season,

presumably in its quest to be more like Formula

One. Even so, Rahal says, “It’s much more

difficult to do the standing starts in Champ Car

because there’s so much more power. It’s hard

to put the power down on these cars as it is.”

Those who enjoyed the Rahal-Pagenaud

battle last year will get a continuation in Champ

Car, as Pagenaud—who won $2 million for the

Atlantic title to use toward a Champ Car ride—

took his money to Team Australia, where he will

partner with Power, the 2006 Rookie of the

Year. Pagenaud’s Atlantic championship came

with Team Australia, and Pagenaud was sixth

fastest in the MSR Houston test, ahead of more

experienced drivers including RuSport’s Justin

Wilson, Forsythe’s Paul Tracy and Rocketsports’

Alex Tagliani.

“It will be a challenging year,” Pagenaud

understates. “But I’m very happy where I am, and

I’m ready to grow with the team and the series.” c


CHAMP CAR

> STOP THIS MAN

Sebastien Bourdais, winner of seven races in 2006, remains the

title favorite and returns with the well-funded Newman-Haas team.

Gone, unfortunately, is the man who kept Bourdais honest: A.J.

Allmendinger, who won five races after he moved from RuSport to

Forsythe in ’06. Allmendinger has moved to NASCAR Nextel Cup.

> NEW EVENTS

Champ Car visits some new

North American venues in

2007, including the opener

on April 8 on a new street

course in Las Vegas and the

season ender on the streets of

Phoenix. Though Champ Car

announced a 17-race schedule,

it canceled the Denver Grand

Prix, leaving 16 races—eight in

the United States, eight outside

the borders.

> THE OLD DOG

One driver returning is past

champ Paul Tracy, who went

winless in 2006. He comes

back with Forsythe and, after

dabbling in NASCAR, has

pledged allegiance to Champ

Car. Whether or not he will

have a teammate remains to

be seen. Ditto for Justin

Wilson at RuSport and Alex

Tagliani at Rocketsports.

> GOING GLOBAL

For the first time since

2003, Champ Car heads to

Europe, with races in

Assen, Holland, on Sept. 2

and Zolder, Belgium, on

Sept. 9, though the dates

could be altered slightly.

Both are established road

courses. Champ Car also

will make its first trip to

China, competing at Zhuhai

International Circuit in

Guangdong Province on

May 20. Also new: Mont

Tremblant replaces

Montreal in Canada on

July 1. Champ Car has

given up, for now, on Korea.

> ROAD WARRIORS

The Milwaukee Mile is

gone, meaning Champ Car

no longer competes on

TALKING POINTS

ovals, one more way the

series differentiates itself

from the oval-friendly IRL.

The Milwaukee race drew a

disappointing crowd in

2006, and team owners

said there was considerable

expense involved in

trimming out the Lolas for

one oval track. There’s no

such concern with the new

Panoz chassis, though

engineers say that should

Champ Car return to ovals,

the Panoz can handle it.

> ROOKIE WAR

Worth watching is the

continuation of the 2006

Atlantic series battle

between Graham Rahal,

son of Bobby Rahal, and

Simon Pagenaud, protégé

of fellow Frenchman

Bourdais, which moves to

Champ Car. Rahal, the

winningest Atlantic driver

last year, will be a teammate

to Bourdais at Newman-

Haas, and Pagenaud, the

2006 Atlantic champion,

stays with Team Australia,

using the $2 million prize

money the Atlantic champ

wins to apply toward a

Champ Car ride.

> NEW NAMES

Pacific Coast Motorsports

is a brand-new Champ Car

team, but it’s familiar to

sports car racing fans.

Drivers are Alex Figge and

Ryan Dalziel, who led the

Rolex 24 at Daytona for

quite a few laps. Changing

names are Minardi, which

takes over CTE, and

Conquest, which was Mi-Jack.

Paul Stoddart is now part owner

of CTE, bringing the Minardi

name from Europe. Both Nelson

Philippe and Robert Doornbos

tested for Minardi early this year.

> COMING OR GOING?

Unsettled at this writing are the

futures of Bruno Junqueira

(below), Dan Clarke, Jan Heylen

and last year’s high-profile

rookie Katherine Legge, who

has been promised a ride for

2007 and who tested early this

year with Dale Coyne Racing.

> PKV PILOTS

Champ Car newcomer Neel

Jani, driver for PKV with Red

Bull backing, has been fast

during testing. Jani spent 2006

as a test driver for the Scuderia

Toro Rosso Formula One team.

PKV co-owner Jimmy Vasser

also has tested the new Panoz

car, but whether or not he will

compete in 2007 is unsettled.

—STEVEN COLE SMITH

AUTOWEEK FAN GUIDE 15FG


2007 FAN GUIDE > ALMS

WATCH THIS

THE RACE WITHIN A RACE IS FOR REAL IN LMP2

BY ERIC TEGLER

AMERICAN LE MANS

Series boss Scott Atherton is

fond of saying, “Watch this

space,” when discussing

potential developments in

his series. For the 2007 LMP2 prototype

class, the phrase is especially apt.

LMP2 will see no fewer than three factory

efforts spread among eight teams and 10

cars. Atherton calls the action “the highest

level of competition the ALMS has ever

seen.” On the cusp of the season opener at

Sebring, it is hard to dispute.

“I think there’s no question that this

is probably the deepest field that ALMS

has seen since 1999,” the series inaugural

season, Dyson Racing’s Chris Dyson agrees.

“The beauty of it is that we have a nice

mix of existing teams, new teams and

manufacturers.”

The mix includes Porsche and Mazda,

both of which return with expanded efforts.

Acura debuts in the series, bringing with

it parent company Honda’s customary

competitive commitment. ALMS privateer

16FG AUTOWEEK FAN GUIDE

stalwart Dyson Racing will square off

against new Acura-supported teams from

Andretti Green Racing and Fernandez

Racing, as well as Highcroft Racing, which

moves from LMP1. Established sports car

stars such as Sascha Maassen will face

open-wheel aces such as Bryan Herta.

Factory involvement will raise the level

of LMP2 car preparation and development

to something akin to a mini-series in itself,

creating an atmosphere not unlike the old

CART.

“I know many of the people here, even

drivers like Bryan [Herta] and Dario

[Franchitti],” says former CART and Indy

Racing League driver Adrian Fernandez.

“Also the teams we’ll compete against,

Michael’s team [AGR] and Penske’s team.

At the same time, these cars feel familiar.

It’s a nice environment.”

Fernandez Racing is one of three Acura

factory teams and will pair Fernandez with

ex-Ganassi Grand-Am driver and fellow

Mexican Luis Diaz. The duo will pilot a

Lola B05/40 and as of winter testing were

< Scott Atherton

considering tackling Sebring without a third

driver. Power comes from an Acura-badged

development of Honda’s IRL engine, a

3.4-liter, naturally aspirated V8.

AGR is Acura’s most high-profile team,

with IRL/CART veteran Herta, who will

team with sports car regular Marino

Franchitti. Marino’s older brother, Dario,

will replace him at selected events, and

AGR’s other open-wheel celebrity, Danica

Patrick, has tested the team’s Courage LC75

in anticipation of taking the wheel at some

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