Mi-Jack Conquest Racing team co-owner Eric Bachelart announced the first of two drivers to compete in the 2004 Champ Car World Series today. The driver he named is former Formula One pilot Justin Wilson.
The Brit was left without a ride in Formula One at the end of the 2003 season. Wilson credits former CART champion Nigel Mansell for opening the eyes of drivers and fans in Great Britain:, "Nigel opened British eyes to Champ Car; this move for me is a logical one at this time."
Wilson competed last season for both the Minardi F1 and the Jaguar F1 team, his best finish coming the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the United States Grand Prix, where he finished in eighth and final point position.
"Justin is a proven winner with a great deal of talent that has been evident at every level," commented Bachelart. Wilson ran the F3000 Series prior to his step-up to Formula One, at first a test driver.
Wilson is looking ahead to his first time in the Mi-Jack Lola next week, "It is going to be a challenge, however, I am use to learning tracks quickly due to the limited time on the F1 tracks prior to races."
He added, "It will be quite a learning curve, hope to be out in the car late next week to get used to the Champ Car and what it is like."
Bachelart was asked why the team chose to remain as a contender in the Champ Car series (formerly CART) with the fact that there are new owners, contracts are still being worked out, the schedule for 2004 is not set in stone and several teams have jumped ship.
"Road racing is what I have always wanted to do," Bachelart explained. "It is what we (the team) wanted to do. We wanted to bring good news which we feel we accomplished today. We have very good feeling about the new ownership and the direction. Should have some very good drivers at Long Beach."
Wilson reflected on what he feels will be the difference with his move from F1 to Champ Car, "Engine is biggest difference. However, that should not be that much of a change, I have driven turbo cars before."
"F1 car is lighter, it reacts quicker, it beats you up. I think a Champ Cars will be easier to drive in the slow corners. Looking forward to being able to push the car more than in F1," continued Wilson.
A second driver for the team's second entry will be announced at a later date, "Very close, very possible we will finalize this today or by the end of the week," Bachelart said. "It is important to have a two-car team: more data resources, better engineering."
Wilson plans to stick around in future seasons, "I think it is a good time to get into the series, to get my foot in the door. The Champ Car series will grown in the next year."
Wilson likes the atmosphere of the Champ Car scene, "I hope to have a good time racing and am looking forward to the friendly atmosphere of the Champ Car group."