Mi-Jack Conquest Racing looking forward to San Jose debut Indianapolis, IN (26 July 2005)-- This weekend's Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose marks the start of the second half of the 2005 Champ Car World Series season, and...
Mi-Jack Conquest Racing looking forward to San Jose debut
Indianapolis, IN (26 July 2005)-- This weekend's Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose marks the start of the second half of the 2005 Champ Car World Series season, and Mi-Jack Conquest Racing is looking forward to racing in yet another exciting market as the team works to continue building momentum through the final seven races of the season with young drivers Nelson Philippe and rookie Andrew Ranger.
Team co-owner Eric Bachelart took some big steps during the off-season to improve the team's competitiveness, growing the teams technical capabilities and adding veteran Bruce Ashmore to the team, as Philippe returned to drive for the team and Ranger made the step up from the Toyota Atlantics ranks for his rookie Champ Car season.
The effort began to show results quickly, as Philippe led his first Champ Car race in Monterrey, Mexico, and teammate Ranger went on to set a record as the youngest driver to stand on a Champ Car podium as the 18-year old scored an impressive second place finish, and went atop the Rookie of the Year standings early in the season.
Despite the speed the young drivers have shown, the results in the subsequent races haven't matched the effort put in by the team and the drivers, and team co-owner Eric Bachelart is looking to the San Jose weekend as a good place to set the team up for a strong second half of the season.
"We think we have done a good job so far, and we continue to improve every weekend, but we haven't had the results we are looking for yet despite how quick Andrew and Nelson have shown they can be," said Bachelart. "We have had some bad luck here and there but those things are behind us now and we know we have a strong team and that our drivers can get good results so hopefully we can do that this weekend and keep building."
Ranger has shown that he can adapt quickly to new venues in his Tide/Mi-Jack Conquest Lola, and is hoping to do so once again as he has shown good speed on the temporary street circuits.
"We are once again going to a new venue that is holding its inaugural race and I have a strong feeling it's going to be as exciting as Edmonton was for the entire Champ Car community two weeks ago," said Ranger. "Having only seen the track layout on paper, I still believe it will suit my driving style with its 90-degree turns and hard braking zones, much like the Toronto street course."
Ranger was ecstatic to take his Monterrey podium, but after contact from another car effectively knocked him out of the Edmonton race, he is dedicated to getting back into the points this weekend.
"Even though we have been quick in the last few races, we have missed out on getting points so we are really focused on getting a strong finish this weekend in San Jose," said Ranger. "Hopefully, we can battle with the leaders and cross the finish line in the top-5, which would give us a great shot at regaining the rookie lead and making our way back into the top-10 in the overall standings."
For Philippe, the San Jose weekend is an exciting new challenge as he is hoping to extend his top-ten finishing streak to three this weekend after taking tenth in Toronto and a career-best ninth in Edmonton.
"I think this race is going to be a really cool one," said Philippe. "Just like Edmonton, this is a place that nobody knows and it will give a fairer advantage to the less experienced drivers."
Looking at the season to date, Philippe is upbeat about how well things have progressed and is hoping to keep the momentum up this weekend.
"My team has been awesome all year and I feel we are really starting to click," said Philippe. "The communication is much better, the performance is up and we now have a lot of fun on race weekends. As far as results for this race, I am disappointed in my race pace from Edmonton, so I will be looking to improve my overall performance this weekend and go up the grid. I love street courses and this one seems no different than what we are used to, so I know that we will have a good car."
For team co-owner Mike Lanigan, the San Jose weekend marks a new market to expose the Champ Car experience to, and he knows that the Silicon Valley market is an important one.
"Edmonton was an incredible success for the series, and we are looking forward to putting on another great show in California this weekend," said Lanigan. "The street events are an important and valuable part of what Champ Car does and we hope that being a high-profile event in this part of the country will continue to create new opportunities for the series and for the teams."
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 clinching 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. Mi-Jack Conquest Racing continued its tradition of working well with young drivers in 2004 as Justin Wilson took second in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year battle, with Nelson Philippe scoring two top-ten finishes after joining the team in the closing stages of the season.