INDIANAPOLIS (December 23, 2002) - Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) announced today that team owners Eric Bachelart and Mike Lanigan will bring their Indianapolis-based Mi-Jack Conquest Racing operation to the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford in 2003 with rookie driver Mario Haberfeld of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
"Racing in CART this year is a logical step for us," said Bachelart, a former Champ driver himself in the early 90s. "We've been involved in the series with an Indy Lights program in the past and we were presented with a good opportunity to put a quality Champ Car program together for 2003. CART's unique blend of oval, road and street course racing, as well as its worldwide popularity, makes competing in the series very appealing to us."
Haberfeld is charged with piloting Mi-Jack Conquest Racing's debut in Champ Car competition. The 26-year-old's resume includes a British Formula 3 title in 1998 before moving on to the FIA Formula 3000 International Championship where he competed from 1999 to 2002. Last season Haberfeld competed with Belgium's Team Astromega and finished seventh in the series championship.
"I met Mario about two years ago and I've been following his career ever since," said Bachelart of his new driver. "I think people will see he'll be a very talented rookie in the Champ Cars. He's young but he's got a lot of experience on the track. I think we'll be competitive and have a chance to challenge for Rookie of the Year honors."
Bachelart's Mi-Jack Conquest Racing team, which competed in the Indy Racing League over the last two seasons, will utilize a stable of Reynard chassis and equipment originally owned by current Champ Car team Player's/Forsythe Racing and 2002 CART competitor Team Green.
A former competitor in the Champ Car series in 1992 and '95, Bachelart drove for Dale Coyne Racing and finished second to new Champ Car team owner Stefan Johansson in 1992 for Rookie of the Year honors. As a driver, the native Belgian also won the 1991 Dayton Indy Lights Championship when the series was the top rung of CART's developmental Ladder System. When Bachelart retired from driving in 1997 he formed Conquest Racing and campaigned the team in Indy Lights until 2001, when the series gave way to the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship as the sanctioning body's second-highest tier.
Already looking forward to the start of the new season, Mi-Jack Conquest Racing recently hired Chris Mower as team manager and Andrew Miller as race engineer - both having ties to the Formula 3 ranks - in preparation for pre-season testing over the next several weeks.