Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Long Beach 2008 – The Panoz DP01’s Last Hurrah!

The Champ Car name - In 2003, Champ Car replaced CART as the sanctioning body of the racing series that has been promoted as Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. This name was adopted after FedEx dropped their title sponsorship of the CART series. /// In 2007, with the withdrawal of Bridgestone and Ford Motor Company, the official name of the top-tier series promoted by Champ Car is now simply the Champ Car World Series. Caption & Image Credit: champcar.wordpress.com

Long Beach 2008 – The Panoz DP01’s Last Hurrah!

After a little over one year of service, North American open-wheel racing’s ChampCar World Series racing platform, the Panoz manufactured DP01 will see its last competition this coming weekend - April 18-20, 2008.

The 34th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be run through the streets and down Shoreline Drive featuring the DP01 and scored through Indy Racing League 2008 Championship points due to the unification of American rules open-wheel racing series between the ChampCar World Series and the Indy Racing League.

Panoz DP01 "Technical Tool" - The measuring rack used to make sure all chassis meet technical specifications. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (EDJE) 2007

By any measure, the Panoz DP01 was a success in its maiden, and as it turns out – last, year. A beautiful and functional design … from the smooth wishbone front wing mount to the rear sidepod airflow escape louvers, a stable platform from the words “Green!-Green!-Green!

In the initial test of the chassis back at the end of August, 2006, the car spent testing week in the capable hands of two-time Champ Car race-winner Roberto Moreno. Roberto piloted the new machine through every lap of the more than 600 miles in searing 90 degree conditions of the week despite not having been in a Champ Car since 2003. The DP01 Sebring test team included engineers from Champ Car, Cosworth, Pi Research and Elan Motorsports along with Hewland and Performance Friction Brakes.

Top-Down DP01 - Alex Figge's Pacific Coast Motorsports Panoz at the Las Vegas Grand Prix 2007. Image Credit: Pacific Coast Motorsports - LAT

"It was nice to be back in a Champ Car and nice to have that kind of power at your fingertips again," stated Moreno at the time of the initial tests at Sebring International Raceway. "I couldn't be happier with this car. The new aero package is really nice and I think it will be great for the guys once the teams get ahold of it. We are really sticking well in the mid-speed corners and the car is really balanced well aerodynamically and we haven't even thrown anything at it from a standpoint of trying to gain mechanical grip. I think that the team has done a great job with this car."

The Panoz DP01 was developed to be safer, and less aero-dependent while racing closely with other cars. The new model had numerous changes from the previous Lola car, including more downforce from the underbody. Approximately 60% of the car's 5,500 lb (2,500 kg) of downforce at 200 mph (320 km/h) will come from the bottom of the car. This is done by directing the air in a way to create downforce on the car, by sucking it to the racetrack. This will put less dependency on the front and rear wings in the event of a failure at high speed.

Some believe that the Panoz DP01 is a better chassis than the IRL standard Dallara (if not just newer) but both chassis lack the meeting of cockpit measurement and safety standards set out by the FIA Institute. It is the intention of the IRL that the next generation of chassis employed (and hopefully introduced by the 2010 season) will conform to an international standard in design safety.

If the cockpit of the Panoz DP01 was FIA compliant, it still would be doubtful that a Tony George chaired operation would allow that much of a merging to take place within the IRL. Even though the DP01 was designed to fit with the IRL specified Honda engine, and the dimensions are roughly equal enough to run with the current and older Dallara chassis, this chassis is a “ChampCar” chassis and thereby does not fit in the management scheme of things.

Side By Side Comparison
ChampCar Panoz DP01 and the IndyCar Dallara

Image Credit: Scanned image from AutoWeek Volume 58, Issue 9 - (click to enlarge)

... notes from The EDJE


VKurtB said...

So if the DP01 can mate to a Honda Indy V8, and the price is within IRL numbers, and the physical dimensions are so close, why is this chassis going bye-bye?

It should be no problem getting these running in the IRL - other than politics.

Anonymous said...

I think the ONLY flaw with the DP01 is its ability to break apart in a major impact. I did really poorly in small rear and front impacts (I.E. Paul Tracy and Alex Figge at Long Beach). I think the IRL was afraid that the DP01 would have trouble breaking apart if it was involved in a major Kenny Brack type of accident.