Following the stunning success of Sebastian Bourdais, Champ Car World Series' 2003 winner of the Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year prize, another young Frenchman has announced plans to join the chase for this year's trophy. Nelson Philippe will...
Following the stunning success of Sebastian Bourdais, Champ Car World Series' 2003 winner of the Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year prize, another young Frenchman has announced plans to join the chase for this year's trophy.
Nelson Philippe will join Rocketsports Racing as teammate to returning Champ Car veteran Alex Tagliani. LeasePlan, a large vehicle leasing and fleet management company, will sponsor the 17-year-old resident of Miami, Florida in Rocketsports' #17 car.
Philippe raced karts in Europe for several years before moving to the US in 2003. After some karting in the states, he switched to racing cars in the Champ Car ladder system with a full season in the Barber Dodge Pro Series. His rookie season ended with a ninth overall in the championship chase, and more importantly established himself as a future Champ Car driver.
His first test in a Champ Car was for the Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing over the winter, but got the call from the Paul Gentilozzi's second-year team, Rocketsports Racing.
"We have been in talks with several teams, but Rocketsports with team owner Paul Gentilozzi was the most appealing," explained Philippe. "Paul has an impressive racing record of his own and his professional approach to racing was an important element to me. I feel privileged to be part of the team."
Gentilozzi added, "We have followed Nelson's career development and monitored his testing sessions. When we got in touch with him we were impressed by his personality, which fits with our team philosophy, and we were glad to be able to sign him."
Philippe will begin testing with his new team this Thursday in Phoenix, Arizona. He will be the youngest driver in Champ Car (formerly CART) to take to the track at the season opener April 18th at the Long Beach Grand Prix.