Wilson scores best finish of the season with fourth place in Mexico City as Philippe comes home in 16th Mexico City, Mexico (7 November 2004)--Justin Wilson ended his rookie season on a high note, scoring his best-ever Champ Car result with a ...
Wilson scores best finish of the season with fourth place in Mexico City as Philippe comes home in 16th
Mexico City, Mexico (7 November 2004)--Justin Wilson ended his rookie season on a high note, scoring his best-ever Champ Car result with a fourth place finish in the Gran Premio Telmex-Tecate at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, Mexico. Teammate Nelson Philippe got his race off to a good start, moving up six positions in the opening stages of the race, but came home a disappointed sixteenth.
Wilson, who took the green flag from the third position, held onto the position in the opening laps, keeping in touch with the leading Newman-Haas cars as he grew his lead over the rest of the field.
Wilson's Mi-Jack Conquest Racing crew had a strong afternoon, scoring the best average time of all the teams for pitstops during the race. After the first round of pit stops, Wilson rejoined the field in fourth, and fought to make his way back to a podium position, but a lapped backmarker and his second set of tires kept him from doing so.
"Up until the first pitstop we seemed pretty good, but after the first round of pit stops, AJ was on a different pit strategy and ended up in front of us, and he was pretty quick from there and we had nothing to answer to that, as for some reason our second set of option tires had a lot of understeer," said Wilson.
Wilson found his car fastest in the last stint of the race, when he scored the fourth fastest lap of the race, leaving nothing on the table in his fight for a podium.
"I was pushing every lap like it was qualifying but at the end of our stint, I caught a lapped back marker and lost several seconds. The last set of tires were much better, and I was able to close the gap considerably, but we just ran out of laps in the end. It's a bit disappointing, as we were hoping to put the Mi-Jack car up on the podium to finish out the season, but it was still a very competitive weekend for us."
Philippe had been hoping to make a big move towards the front after starting the race from nineteenth, and had picked up several positions in the early laps, but suffered a misfortune in his first pitstop when an element of the refueling rig did not work properly, and like Wilson, found himself struggling on his second set of tires.
"The race car was not optimal for me, and we lost some time on the first pit stop," said Philippe. "The second set of option tires were understeering all over, but at the end of the race, the car was much more to my liking. It's not at all how we wanted to finish the season, but we'll do better next year."
Mi-Jack Conquest team owner Eric Bachelart had been hoping to continue his teams' streak of top-ten finishes for both drivers, but was nonetheless pleased with Wilson taking his best finish of the season.
"The crew worked well all weekend, and put us in a competitive position, but Allmendinger did a good game to take third with the strategy they used," said Bachelart. "It was a solid effort from the team, but of course we are a bit disappointed not to make it to the podium, as that was the goal for the weekend, but we just missed it by a little. We have had a good series of races, and have to be satisfied to finish the season with some positive momentum towards next year."
The weekend provided mixed results for the two Mi-Jack Conquest Racing entries, but Bachelart focused on the positives following the final race of the Champ Car season.
"Nelson had a difficult weekend here in Mexico, but he is very young yet and I know that he learned a lot from the weekend and will continue to progress."
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.