Heylen Battles Through Field, Passing Multiple Competitors to Earn His Second Top-Ten Finish of Season
After an eventful day on track that started with Robert Doornbos' leaving his front wing on top of Jan Heylen's engine cover back in the first corner after Doornbos failed to slow enough for the hairpin corner, the #34 / Champ Car Grand Prix of Belgium / Cosworth / DP01 / Bridgestone car earned it's second, top-ten finish of the season. Heylen battled competitors, defending his position and surviving a race with an extremely high attrition rate of the streets of San Jose, making for a dynamic one hour and forty-five minute event. With Doornbos' front wing lodged on top of the engine cover, Heylen was forced to make a stop as soon as the pit lane opened up. Heylen immediately switched from his option tires to the black ones and from lap three on, he opted for the Bridgestone Black tires, which were his preferred tires on this bumpy 1.448-mile street.
During the second yellow flag of the day in lap 13, a strategy to not pit in order to gain position was discussed with the hopes that the rest of the field would make the stop. Unfortunately, this strategy did not work to the team's advantage as the field expected to pit did not, keeping him from gaining any track position. By using the 60-seconds of allotted Power-to-Pass, Heylen worked to climb through the field peaking at eighth position. After the third pit stop, Heylen's pit-exit position back into the race put him behind the leader and a lap down. He then quickly caught back up to the lead lap at the back of the pack under yet another yellow flag and pitted a fourth time to ensure he wouldn't have to worry about saving fuel for the rest of the race. Heylen ended up in eighth position after the final yellow flag restart and in the process of battling with Bruno Junqueira with nine laps to go, he made contact, dropping him to tenth position where he finished. After the checkered flag was dropped a ruling by Champ Car determined that Simon Pagenaud was blocking and assessed a 25 second time penalty which gave the Belgian his best finish of the year with a ninth place result.
Jan Heylen Quote
We ended up passing a lot of cars during the course of the race, we drove really hard and tried as best that we could. We were able to set a good pace and I myself will have to work on saving fuel techniques in the future. We had a yellow flag that came at a really bad time for us which put us a lap down but we were fortunately able to catch back up but ended up at the back of the field. It is good to have another top-ten finish, everyone worked really hard to achieve this result today. With a little bit of luck we could have had a podium but we'll just have to work hard for the race at Road America."
Eric Bachelart Quote
"We had a pretty good car today and Jan drove very hard passing many cars during the course of the race," said Eric Bachelart, Conquest Racing team owner. "Possibly, we had two opportunities of having a top three finish and we missed it. Looking backwards, we could have adjusted our strategy a little differently and also after a last early pit stop, Jan got passed by the leader right before a yellow came in. We could have led the race then but it was not meant to be and instead we ended up at the back of the field. We are now looking forward to go back on some road courses and Elkhart Lake where we had a very good test a few weeks ago".