Mi-Jack Conquest Racing's Philippe takes ninth in Edmonton First-lap contact steals Ranger's chance to shine in front of enthusiastic Canadian crowd in Edmonton as Philippe scores career-best Champ Car finish Edmonton, Alberta (17 July 2005) -...
Mi-Jack Conquest Racing's Philippe takes ninth in Edmonton
First-lap contact steals Ranger's chance to shine in front of enthusiastic Canadian crowd in Edmonton as Philippe scores career-best Champ Car finish
Edmonton, Alberta (17 July 2005) - Mi-Jack Conquest Racing's Nelson Philippe scored his second straight top-ten Champ Car result in Sunday's West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix in Edmonton, Alberta, with a career-best ninth place finish, as rookie stand out Andrew Ranger's day ended early after contact from another car damaged his suspension and forced him out of the race early.
The Edmonton weekend was the debut event for the Champ Car World Series, and was highly successful as the track drew raves from the drivers and the event drew over 200,000 spectators during the weekend.
After both Mi-Jack Conquest Racing drivers were in the top-ten in the Sunday morning warm-up, the team was looking forward to a strong race. Philippe got off to a good start from twelfth on the grid and quickly moved up into the top ten in the early laps. After a strong pit stop from the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing crew, Philippe was up to seventh, but the young Frenchman was unable to capitalize and move forward up the field.
"The team did a great job on the pit-stops, but unfortunately I could not do anything on the track," said Philippe. "The car was unpredictable, and it made it difficult to do good laps consistently. I need to do a better job with my race pace, but we will look at the data and check out the car. I am sorry that I ended up holding Oriol up, I did not realize he was going for position, but it's good to get another top-ten result, although it wasn't the way we wanted it to be. We'll look for better things in our next race in San Jose."
Team co-owner Eric Bachelart has worked to build his team and guide his young drivers toward success, and while he was pleased to see the strong effort from his pit crew, he knows that Nelson has the speed to run up front as he did in Mexico, and that this result will help continue to build Philippe's momentum.
"With Nelson, we have to look at the data and we need to understand why he had a slow pace," said Bachelart. "We did some good pit-stops during the whole race, and we gained three positions in the first stop. Nelson finished 9th and that's his best result so far."
For Ranger, who will look to retake the lead the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year standings in the next round, the contact meant a second consecutive race of not scoring significant points, and the young Canadian was deeply disappointed not to get the chance to race in front of a large and enthusiastic Edmonton crowd.
"I'm very disappointed today," said Ranger. "I started 15th, and coming to the second corner, a car hit me from the back and because of that I hit the car in front of me. I had to bring the car to the pits. The team started to check everything and they worked on the front left for a while. I only went back to the race on lap 15, but the car was still hard to drive and it was better just to come back to the pits, so unfortunately it was the end of the race for me."
In the opening session of the race weekend, Ranger lost a significant amount of crucial track time as he worked to find the fast way around the airport-based track after being crashed out by a competitor in practice, compromising his Friday qualifying effort. The incident put the young driver behind for the whole weekend, because the second qualifying session of the weekend, which would usually provide a track with more grip and faster times, turned out to be slower due to rain, and he was forced to start the race from fifteenth.
"For Andrew, it's heart breaking to finish a race like that, especially when it's in front of all his countrymen," said Bachelart. "His crash on Friday, which was not at all his fault, hurt him for the rest of the weekend, but, we will put this event behind us and get ready for San Jose."
Despite not getting the results he was hoping for from the weekend, Bachelart was quick to point out how successful the race weekend was, and is enthusiastic about Champ Car's continued growth into new and receptive race markets across the globe.
"My congratulations to the promoters of this race, because they did a wonderful job and we will look forward to racing again in Edmonton next year. It is going to be another good challenge for the team to race for the first time in San Jose, and hopefully we can be strong there."
The race weekend was the second of three for Mi-Jack Conquest Racing this July. Following this weekend's event, the Champ Car World Series will race once again out West for the Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose on July 31st.