CHAMPCAR/CART: Conquest Racing teleconference transcript, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q</I>: The real question would be what are your goals for this year as a team owner? What can you achieve in terms of finishes, podiums or wins? ERIC BACHELART: Obviously we feel strong as a team, we've improved...

Continued from part 1

Q</I>:  The real question would be what are your goals for this year as a
team owner?  What can you achieve in terms of finishes, podiums or wins?

ERIC BACHELART: Obviously we feel strong as a team, we've improved our game. Today it's a bit difficult to answer that precisely because we have got a lot of announcements lately with Champ Car. I'm still not sure about all the drivers in this year's lineup with the different teams.

It seems to me that the series is going to be extremely competitive. I only hear about very good drivers. Again, when I see all the entries, I can tell you more about what we're competing against.

As a team, again, we've got more experience with the addition of Ashmore with us. We've been working hard all winter long. We're definitely doing more development. We have an aero program, we have a new shock program, quite a lot of things. I feel good that we will develop the cars quite a bit.

Now we're going to have to take the best information out of Nelson and Andrew. I guess Nelson in the first part will help us trying the new things. And Andrew will do that as well. I mean, he's learning very quickly. Over the two days testing in Fontana, it was amazing all the information that we got from him. His answers were good. They were accurate. We tried a bunch of different things with him.

As far as the goal, I want to go to test in Sebring and see where we stand. We're going to have a lot of cars on the track during those two days. Then we will go to Long Beach. We'll build from there. I want to work with some pressure, but positive pressure that has everybody going in the right direction. If we work well, I think the results will be there. I have no doubt about it.

Q</I>: Andrew, you have a teammate, Nelson Philippe. What is your relationship with him? Do you think because you both speak French that you'll be able to communicate better and share ideas because it's your native language or do you feel you know English well enough that it's not an issue?

ANDREW RANGER: I know Nelson. I raced with him in go-kart in Europe. He speaks French, I speak French. You speak a little with your teammate, but it's more with the engineer. The engineer speaks in English. I think it's just going to be in English.

Q</I>: Your engineer and you are both rookies in the series. You came from Toyota Atlantic. Do you feel it's going to be a challenge, learning the Champ Car together, both being rookies and not having experience with the Champ Car?

ANDREW RANGER:  Yeah, but we have Bruce Ashmore working with us.
He's a very good guy.  He worked very hard with Patrick Carpentier,
a couple years ago, and last year with AJ Allmendinger.  Now he's with
Mi-Jack.  So he knows the car.  Dave Faustino worked hard to learn more
about the car.  Together I think it's going to be good.

Q</I>: Andrew, we already talked to Eric about his goals. Do you have any specific goals in mind for yourself this year?

ANDREW RANGER: For me I think it's going to be the Rookie-of-the-Year, this is for sure, because I did it last year in Toyota Atlantics. But I don't want to put too much pressure on myself because I want to wait and see what's going to happen in Long Beach. I want to do the race and then after I will be happy to talk about what's going to happen for this year.

Q</I>: Eric, at the California Speedway test, I saw Bruce Ashmore there. Is he going to be part of your team this year?

ERIC BACHELART: Yes, he's our new technical director. This is the first time we have the position. We didn't have that last year. We have quite an ambitious development program this year. So I think it's good to have Bruce on board. I have known Bruce for many years. I'm very pleased that he's joining us. Very pleased with Dave Faustino, as well. When Andrew and Dave showed up in Fontana, it was the second day of Andrew in a Champ Car and the first day for Dave. At the end of the day, the first day, they did quite well together.

You know, keep in mind that we have two teams under one roof. Our other track engineer, Don Bricker, is here. Everybody is working in the same direction. It is really important. I put a lot of energy myself to make sure that these guys are working together and there is a very good team spirit between the two specific teams, the car 34 and the car 27.

Dave Faustino is not by himself. You know, we are sharing everything. It's no problem. I think Faustino is a very good guy. I've been very impressed with him, especially with the first test we've done together.

Q</I>: Andrew, I notice you're staying with the 27 on your car. Most might think it pays tribute to another Canadian legend, Gil Villeneuve. As you told me in Long Beach, it pays tribute to another person.

ANDREW RANGER: My #27, it's pretty fun because I have the same number. My father raced in stock car, and he had the 27 car. Last year I raced with that number too. But it's fun to have the 27 because Jacques Villeneuve had the 27 in Indianapolis and he won. Gil Villeneuve, too. I think I have the 27 because my father had it, but it's pretty fun that Villeneuve had the number 27 as well.

Q</I>: Eric, you've added a number of new staff, technical people to your team, as you just mentioned. Do you think it's going to be enough or do you have also the additional resources to bring your team up to compete against the Forsythes and perhaps the Newman/Haas's or the RuSPORTs as a new team, but they have considerable resources at their disposal?

ERIC BACHELART: Yes, for sure we're trying the best we can. There's a lot of motivation on our side. We probably don't have as much resources as they do, but we have a fighting spirit, and it's very much on us. Again, we'll do wind tunnel development and we'll do development of these new shocks.

There's going to be tough competition. But, for sure, we are starting the season with a big fighting spirit, and we are not thinking we're going to be weak. We have a very good team of people behind us, and I think that can make a big difference, too.

The spirit and the atmosphere that is in the team right now is incredible. The guys are working so hard. I mean, it's very nice. I enjoy it a lot. And I tell you, when you go throughout the winter having all these question marks, you don't know how you're going to do it. Finally everything's coming together, as you can see. I mean, this past week at the shop, everybody has such a smile on their face. They are going to the fitness center three times a week. They are doing pit stop practices twice a day. I mean, it's good. It's as good as it can be. And I'm really pumped up.

Q</I>: Eric, how many more additional staff will we see by the time you take the grid at Long Beach in a couple of weeks? Are you still looking for more personnel, more people to add to your team overall?

ERIC BACHELART: Well, I think we're missing still one guy for our truck driver department, that's about it. The team is completed and all together we have a bit more people on board than we did last year, you know. The main thing is on the engineering side, we have developed the engineering quite a bit, so I think we have two more people on the engineering side.

ERIC MAUK: This is talking about a team here, Eric, that is not coming from not having been competitive to trying to run up front this year. Your very first start in Champ Car you finished fourth at St. Petersburg with Mario Haberfeld. You had three top six's in the first four races last year with Justin Wilson, then ended the year finishing fourth down in Mexico City.

Even the testing so far this year, while you guys haven't been on top of the charts, you have been close, within a second of the fastest guys pretty much everywhere we've gone. This isn't like you're building a team from scratch it doesn't seem like.

ERIC BACHELART: No, I think you're right. I mean, you know, every year we're trying to make it better. It takes a bit of time because we have to build it by ourselves. But, I mean, today I feel quite good about what we have. I don't want to do any auto-satisfaction or whatever, but I think the team is getting pretty mature.

One of the keys is that we have been working with some people for quite a few years now, I mean, most of the team, so there's very little turnover. You know, it's still a small team, and I like it this way. I mean, I want a small team, but a strong one. I think that is what we have.

I don't care about being a big team. I like the small team spirit, I really do. So, Eric, it's a pretty exciting moment right now. The first race coming in a few weeks, and testing in Sebring. The sharing of two young drivers, and there is not really any ego there, it's just simple, natural, everyone working the same direction.

Q</I>: Eric, why did you not opt for perhaps one veteran to go with your 18-year-old, whichever one you finally settled on?

ERIC BACHELART: We've been testing quite a few drivers over the winter. Some had more experience than others. But at the end of the day what we were looking for was a driver that had the best talent. You can have veteran drivers that aren't as talented as young drivers.

Obviously, experience can compensate a little bit of that.  But at the
end we just decide to go this way.  Again, we feel very good with
Andrew.  The whole team was impressed with the test.  Again, after the
test we had to make some quick decisions.  We felt it was our best
option.  So that's basically what we did.
I mean, I expect it's not going to be easy, no doubt about it.  We have
two young drivers.  You know, nothing is easy.  It's a tough
competition.  But all together I feel we'll do well, I really do.

Q</I>: Andrew, why at the age of just having turned 18 have you been so anxious to get into Champ Car rather than getting a little more experience at the Atlantic level?

ANDREW RANGER: I think it's going to be fun because I don't have a lot of experience in Champ Car. But, you know, I worked hard last year with Dave Faustino. I learned so much and ready to jump to Champ Car because I race last year in Atlantic, and was pretty fun. And now to jump in a Champ Car, it's like the same driving. It's pretty fun because you can brake late and can you put so much speed in the corners, both of those cars are great. I don't have a lot of experience, but I think with Bruce Ashmore, it's going to be pretty fun. He knows the car, he worked with Patrick Carpentier a couple years ago. He know the car. And me, I think I need to learn this year.

Q</I>: You feel you've learned enough at the Atlantic level that you can make a smooth transition to the Champ Cars?

ANDREW RANGER: Yeah, exactly. More easy to race in Toyota Atlantics and then jump into a Champ Car.

Q</I>:  Andrew, you're Andre up here in Canada.  A lot of us call you Andre.
Down there you'll be Andrew Ranger.  Which do you prefer?

ANDREW RANGER: I think it's better Andrew Ranger.

Q</I>: Is that how you want to be known?

ANDREW RANGER: I think it's going to be best.

Q</I>: Why?

ANDREW RANGER: Because in the States, if you say Andrew, it's English, and Ranger, it's French. It's too difficult to say Andrew Ranger. I think it's easier to say Andrew Ranger.

Q</I>: I was wondering if you and Alain felt this was a better marketing tactic, as well.

ANDREW RANGER: Yeah, it's pretty good.

Q</I>: Andrew, could you tell me who you're going to be looking most forward to racing against at the Champ Car level?

ANDREW RANGER: I think it's got to be a couple drivers. You have Tracy there, Cristiano da Matta, Junqueira. It's going to be so competitive this year. I think for me it's going to be a lot of pressure because I want to be fast, I want to be in the top 10, this is sure. But I need to work hard, I need to work with the car, I need to work hard with the engineer. It's going to be a tough year, but I'm there.

Q</I>: Despite all the accolades being paid to your teammate, will you be embarrassed not to beat him in every single race?

ANDREW RANGER: No, I know Nelson. He's a good driver. Look, he has one year of experience. And me, I don't have a year of experience in Champ Car. He already knows a little bit about the car. But for me, I need to learn a little bit more, but I learn fast. I think it's going to be a very, very interesting season.

Q</I>: Andrew, could you clarify, is Tide only going to be on the car in the Canadian races?

ANDREW RANGER: Yeah, the Tide is going to be on the car just for the Canadian races, with the side spot. It's going to be on the in the U.S., as well, just a small one logo though instead of being on the sidepod, I think.

Q</I>: It will be Kodak in the US races?

ANDREW RANGER: Exactly, Kodak, along with Tide will be on the car. However, the primary sponsor on the car will be Mi-Jack.

Q</I>: You worked with David Empringham as a driver coach. Will you be working with him?

ANDREW RANGER: I don't know for this year. But he's a good guy. Probably I will have him for this year, but I don't know.

ERIC MAUK: We'll bring a close to our Champ Car media teleconference today. Eric Bachelart, Andrew Ranger, congratulations. We look again very much forward to seeing you on the grid at Long Beach. We'll see you all out on the test track at Sebring International Raceway on the short course, starting two days of testing Wednesday and Thursday. Thank you very much for joining us today.

ERIC BACHELART: Thank you.

ANDREW RANGER: Thank you, Eric.

-ccws-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Mario Haberfeld , Justin Wilson , Patrick Carpentier , David Empringham , Bruce Ashmore , Nelson Philippe , Andrew Ranger , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Conquest Racing