Conquest Upbeat After Long Beach Race Weekend
Long Beach, CA (17 April 2007)- After contact early in the race brought a premature end to Conquest Racing driver Matt Halliday's Champ Car debut last week in Las Vegas, the New Zealand native was looking forward to making it to the finish in round two of the Champ Car World Series this weekend in Long Beach.
After qualifying on the sixth row of the grid in just his second Champ Car event, Halliday got the race day off to a promising start, setting the sixth quickest time in the morning warm-up with the 42 BELOW machine. As the two-hour event got underway, Halliday quickly moved up to ninth in the opening stages of the race.
Unfortunately, brake problems midway through the event prevented Halliday from continuing at full pace. When Halliday brought the 42 BELOW machine in to the pits on lap fifty-five for teh second pit stop, the Conquest Racing pit crew also worked to restore the braking power of the Panoz, but unfortunately only for a few laps before a problem with the differential ultimately prevented Halliday from finishing the Long Beach event.
"We had a good start but there was some traffic ahead of me and we were just trying to conserve our fuel," said Halliday. "The car was quicker than anyone in front of me but after the first pit stop, the brake pedal was going to the floor and I lost my brakes. I had to really slow down a lot to keep the car off the walls and I felt a bit helpless. I really wanted to finish the race, so it is disappointing not to do that, but now we will focus on quickly learning our way around Houston and hopefully be competitive throughout the weekend."
The fifteenth-place finish was not what the Indianapolis-based squad was seeking on the California coast, but despite the issues that developed during the race, the weekend was very positive for the team, which is gelling together well in the early stages of the 2007 season.
"It's a shame we had a mechanical issue with some gearbox internals, but I feel that we are moving ahead in the right direction," said team owner Eric Bachelart. "We made some good improvements in the car set up and that showed with how quick we went in the warm up. Matt is getting more and more comfortable in the car, and he did a very good job in the race despite some difficult conditions. We are excited about the race next week in Houston and I am proud of the effort this team has put in to be ready for these opening races of the season with the new car."
Conquest Racing will compete again next weekend in the Grand Prix of Houston at the JAGFlo Speedway at Reliant Park with the 42 BELOW Champ Car as well as the two-car Conquest Racing Atlantic team of Matt Lee and Giacomo Ricci.