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Mi-Jack Conquest Racing signs Nelson Philippe

 February 4, 2005

Indianapolis, IN (February 4)—Mi-Jack Conquest Racing confirmed today that Nelson Philippe will return to the team for the 2005 season. Philippe, who joined the team during the 2004 season and promptly posted a run of strong finishes, was the youngest driver ever to make a Champ Car start at just seventeen years old, and the Frenchman is looking to continue his forward progress up the grid that he started with MJCR last season.

“I am excited to have Nelson returning to the cockpit of the MJCR Lola for the 2005 season,” said team owner Eric Bachelart. “Last year was a good learning year for Nelson, I believe in his talents and I know he has a lot of potential. I am pleased that we have the chance to sign Nelson early, as we can now begin building our future with him,” said Bachelart.

Philippe rocketed from the Barber Dodge ranks up to Champ Car, and demonstrated remarkable poise and control as he adapted to the high speeds and big power that the Champ Cars offer, and Philippe is looking forward to working with MJCR again for 2005.

“I am excited to be returning with MJCR,” said Philippe. “I really enjoyed the technical development side within the team, and know that MJCR has been working hard during the off season to allow us to be in a competitive position this year. I learned a lot last season, and I am looking forward to getting back to racing again.”

Don Bricker, who worked with Justin Wilson last season, will be Philippe’s engineer, and the team is looking forward to the new pairing as an important development towards the teams future.

“Nelson is an impressive young man, and its absolutely remarkable how much progress he has made in a short time in Champ Car,” said Mi-Jack Conquest Racing co-owner Mike Lanigan. “He’s an exciting character on and off the track, and we are proud to have him represent us again this season.”

With the 2005 Champ Car World Series scheduled to get underway at Long Beach in two months time, the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing team has been a flurry of activity as the team prepares for the season with several staffing additions helping to move the team forward.

Mi-Jack Conquest Racing has added several new employees during the off-season, and Bachelart is working to put the team in a position to be consistently contending at all of the different types of circuits that the Champ Car World Series visits-short ovals, super speedways, and natural and temporary street circuits.

“We have made extensive investments during the off-season to increase our technical capabilities, and having Nelson return to the team will be very positive to build continuity in our technical program and build on the relationship we developed with him last season,” said Bachelart.

One significant hiring was the addition of Bruce Ashmore to the team. Ashmore designed the all-conquering Lolas that took the Champ Car Championships in 1990, 1991, and 1992 before moving on in 1994 to enjoy success in his executive role with Reynard. Ashmore will be bringing his considerable technical and race day experience to bear as the team continues to develop their engineering and development program with the team Lolas.

The technical side of the program is not the only part of the equation that has kept the Mi-Jack shops busy with activity this winter, as team owner Bachelart has been working to strengthen the teams commercial prospects as well.

“We are in ongoing discussions with a potentially significant new team partner, and hope to have some positive results from these discussions,” said Bachelart. “It has been a very busy off-season for us, but it’s an exciting time as we look forward to the 2005 season.”

The signing of Philippe and the improvements to the teams infrastructure demonstrate that Bachelart believes in the future of Champ Car.

“Champ Car management has moved the series forward, and with the new television package and the very exciting schedule, we are very much looking forward to the season and bringing a competitive package to every race weekend.”

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. The team is looking forward to contesting its third season in the Champ Car World Series powered by Ford, and is currently developing its plans for 2005.


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