Philippe takes eighth with last lap dash
Bad luck for Ranger puts him 17th on the grid
(Mexico City, Mexico)--5 November 05 Mi-Jack Conquest Racing driver Nelson Philippe made the most of his last qualifying lap of the 2005 Champ Car World Series season to post his fastest lap of the weekend with a 1:27.653-second lap to take eighth on the grid for Sunday's Grand Premio Telmex-Tacate presented by Banamex in Mexico City, Mexico.
Canadian rookie Andrew Ranger will have his work cut out for him on Sunday after a red flag halted the qualifying session as he was midway through a lap which would have also placed him in the top ten and he was forced to settle for seventeenth on the grid.
The last-lap effort by Philippe was in part a tribute from the young Frenchmen to the effort his Mi-Jack Conquest Racing crew has put in all season.
"It is very rewarding to get well into the top ten on my last qualifying lap of the season," said Philippe. "Going down the back straight I was telling myself 'this is for my guys,' and I was really happy to reward all their hard work with a good position on the grid. It is going to be a long and physical race, so I just want to get through the first lap with my nose clean and then work on getting towards the front. We have some improvements we will make to the car tonight, and we should be quick in the race tomorrow."
The jubilation that Philippe felt was contrasted by the deep disappointment of teammate Ranger, who was on a flyer with his 'Red' option Bridgestone tires perfectly primed for a good time when a red flag canceled his best effort, and his subsequent tries were compromised by the Bridgestone tires having lost grip through the ensuing heat cycle.
"I am disappointed to be starting from so far back after the problems that we had in qualifying, but it is a long race and anything can happen," said Ranger, who took a podium finish in his last visit to Mexico with Mi-Jack Conquest Racing earlier this season. "We will work on the car tonight to try and find a little bit more speed so we can make some passes in the race and try to move back up and get some good points."
Team Co-owner Eric Bachelart has overseen the progress that both his young drivers have made this season, and he shared his drivers feelings about the mixed session for the team.
"Nelson put in a really good effort on that last lap after we struggled a bit with the set-up earlier in the day," said Bachelart. "This confirms the progress that Nelson has been making all season, and hopefully he can have another strong race tomorrow. It was a shame that Andrew didn't have better luck during the session and will have to fight from back in the field, but I know he is hungry to finish the season off strong tomorrow."
Sunday's race will be broadcast live on Speed Channel.