Another seat has been confirmed for this year's Champ Car lineup with the announcement that Frenchman Nelson Philippe will be one of the two drivers for the newly-renamed HVM-CTE Racing. The team formerly known as Herdez Competition and HVM took on a new owner this past season but a popular one in performer/actor Cedric the Entertainer.
I'm definitely very, very pumped and very excited about this new season.," commented Philippe. I really want to win this year. "Win" in terms of accomplishing the goals that we set early for the team. You know, I'm very much looking forward to testing this week in Sebring, just getting back out there. It's been a while since I've been in the car. I'm very much looking forward to that."
Ronnie Bremer still has a contact with the team, during the 2005 season, in a peculiar move, Bremer finished the second half of the season for Dale Coyne Racing after being released from HVM due to a lack of funds.
"We're still talking with Ronnie. We still have a lot of good things that the team is really starting to get some good momentum in terms of relationships. But nothing's done until it's done," admitted team co-owner Keith Wiggins. "Yes, we're talking to other drivers because everybody has to keep their options at this stage.
"In summary, we've got a couple weeks to go. It's closer than everybody would choose, but it's not probably unusual recently. We're going to work on it in the next one to two weeks. We should be able to tell you where we're going with the second car."
The 19-year-old Philippe will be with his third team in three seasons. He matured rapidly last season in his first full year with Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing, scoring a career best finish of 7th in the finale at Mexico City and finishing 13th in the final standings. He was also awarded the Bosch Most Improved Driver award by his peers.
His rookie year of 2004 saw him switch teams and chassis, from a Rocketsports Racing Lola to a Reynard entry for Conquest. Continuity is something that has eluded Philippe so far but this new switch should provide him a springboard to new heights this season.
"We felt very strongly, liked very much what we saw Nelson do over the last couple of years. He may or may not agree, but I thought at the beginning he jumped in the deep end two and a half, three years ago, but he did a very good swim," Wiggins said. "We're very excited because I think he's at another level. We've had drivers here which you expect results from, and sometimes for various reasons you don't always get."
Philippe's younger brother, Richard Philippe, won the 2005 Formula BMW U.S. Championship and will be part of the four-car Forsythe Championship Racing "super team" in this year's Champ Car Atlantic Championship.