CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: Conquest Racing race report

Mi-Jack Conquest Racing News- Wilson and Philippe finish 8th and 10th in Australia Late race yellow flag disrupts pit strategy Surfers Paradise, Australia (24 October 04) Mi-Jack Conquest Racing drivers Justin Wilson and Nelson Philippe...

Mi-Jack Conquest Racing News- Wilson and Philippe finish 8th and 10th in Australia

Late race yellow flag disrupts pit strategy

Surfers Paradise, Australia (24 October 04) Mi-Jack Conquest Racing drivers Justin Wilson and Nelson Philippe finished eighth and tenth, respectively, in the Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise, Australia after a late-race caution period put paid to a pit strategy that would have likely seen the two young racers score finishes further up the order. The finish is the second consecutive double top ten for the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing squad.

Wilson started from seventh on the grid, and held onto the spot through the first segment of the race, rejoining the field on lap fifteen in seventh after the first of his two pit stops. Wilson stayed on track during the second caution period, and fought his way up into fourth position before pitting for fuel and fresh tires on lap thirty-eight.

A quick stop saw Wilson rejoin the pack in thirteenth, and the former Formula One racer put his head down to fight up to eighth. Several of the drivers ahead needed to pit for a late race splash of fuel, but Wilson was good to go to the finish. The yellow flag on lap fifty-three meant that the other drivers were able to make it to the finish, preventing Wilson from improving any further.

"The result doesn't really match the effort the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing guys put in this weekend," said Wilson. "The car was good and I was able to push all the way. We were well situated to make a big jump in the order late in the race thanks to our pit strategy, but the yellow race erased that advantage, and we had to settle for eighth. We'll take the finish and the points and prepare for Mexico and try and finish the season on a high note."

The race, which was just the twentieth car race of young Philippe's career after a successful karting career, saw Philippe make several passes on track to move up from his fourteenth starting position and run as high as seventh in the closing stages of the race. The yellow flag also disrupted Philippe's race, but the young racer was still satisfied to take the finish and keep the momentum up.

"The car was good everywhere, particularly at the beginning of each of my stints," said Philippe. "I had enough speed to make some passes on the track, and that really boosted my confidence during the race. The guys once again did a great job in the pits and my engineer called a great race, but we just got unlucky with that last yellow flag, as we'd been running in seventh."

Philippe was pleased with his effort during the race, and is looking to make it three in a row for top ten finishes in the final round race in Mexico City.

"The result wasn't what we wanted, but its another top ten for me and we know we are strong and that we will be very competitive again heading down to Mexico," said Philippe.

"Both the drivers preformed very well, and we had a good strategy going but the yellow of course took away our advantage," said team owner Eric Bachelart. "Nelson ran a very good race, and he was one of the only drivers to make passes on the track, so we continue to be pleased with his progress in the car. Justin was able to overcome some problems with lapped traffic that cost him some positions, so it was another strong drive from him as well. Now we look forward to racing in Mexico and will be working to finish the season off strong."

1991 Indy Lights Champion Eric Bachelart started Conquest Racing in 1997 to compete in the Indy Lights series, scoring a podium finish with driver Christophe Tinseau in the team's first season. Conquest Racing competed in the next four seasons in Indy Lights, winning races with Felipe Giaffone and Kristian Kolby. Mike Lanigan, President of Mi-Jack Products, an intermodal Chicago based company became a co-owner in 2002. Mi-Jack Conquest racing contested the 2002 Indy Racing League season with rookie Laurent Redon, netting a podium finish in just the third race of the season and clinched the Rookie of the year award.

Mi-Jack Conquest racing rejoined the Champ Car family in 2003, stepping up to the Champ Car World Series with Brazilian Mario Haberfeld and scoring eleven top-ten finishes despite competing with a Reynard. The team is proud to be contesting its second season in the Champ Car World Series powered by Ford, with rookie drivers Justin Wilson and Nelson Philippe.

-cr-

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Series INDYCAR