Last Friday night in San Jose, California, the Champ Car World Series staged the long-awaited unveiling of its new spec racer for 2007 - the Panoz DP01.

Designed and built by Panoz' Georgia-based operation, the new car will replace the aging Lolas that have been the backbone of the series for years. In keeping with the series' road course and street circuit emphasis, the new car is lighter (by about 100 pounds) and smaller than the current car, while retaining the same turbocharged V8.

Follow the jump for more details on the Panoz DP01 and lots of pics.

[Source: Champ Car World Series]

Aerodynamics on the new car have been carefully designed to allow the cars to run closely together, with the majority of the car's downforce generated by big "underwings" beneath the body structure, minimizing the role of the front and rear wings. Although the design of the car will be frozen for the first few years while the series builds up the grid, it's likely that series organizers will gradually ease the restrictions on the car, allowing teams to develop their own parts in some areas.

Other features of the new car include paddle shifters, an enlarged cockpit to accomodate taller drivers, and a raised nose to improve front wing performance and clean up the airflow under the car. The DP01 also has an on-board starter, which should reduce the number of in-race caution periods for stalled cars.

The new car is designed to be considerably less expensive to acquire and to maintain, which should help the series in its efforts to increase the number of competitors, in the same way that the new Swift Formula Atlantic car, introduced this year, revitalized Champ Car's support series. Early signs are promising - the Formula BMW and Formula Atlantic Gelles Racing organization announced at the launch party that it will join the Champ Car series in 2007 with a two-car team.

[Source: Champ Car World Series]

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