Nelson Philippe, the popular French driver who was the youngest driver to ever start and win a Champ Car World Series race, will return to his former team, Conquest Racing. Philippe will defend his title this month at Surfers Paradise, Australia in the blue and white livery of Australian based Juniper Property Development Group. Additionally, the 21-year-old Philippe will compete in the Champ Car season finale in Mexico City in November.
"I'm thrilled to be back, and no better time than now with Surfers Paradise around the corner [October 21]," said Philippe, who earned his first career title in Australia last year. "It's been
a challenge to be sidelined this year, but things happen for a reason and right now it's full steam ahead for Australia and Mexico."
Philippe made 19 starts for Eric Bachelart's Conquest Racing in 2004 and 2005. He raced in 2006 for CTE-HVM Racing, where he earned his first podium finish at Milwaukee, second podium finish in Montreal, and his first career win at Surfers Paradise. Nelson finished the season ranked fourth in the series. While driving for Conquest in 2005, Philippe was voted by his peers as the Bosch Most Improved Driver in the Series, and won the award last year as well.
"It's great to have Nelson back where he belongs with Conquest and Champ Car," said Conquest Racing team owner Eric Bachelart. "He was a great driver during his three years with the Series. We expect he will do very well despite his time away from the racetrack. He's a skilled, smart driver who knows how to win."
"We are also proud to announce our partnership with Juniper Group. Juniper represents exceptional commitment to world class development, linking prestige properties and prestigious racing. We are thrilled to be joining forces with this great company" finished Bachelart.
Shaun Juniper, Managing Director - Juniper Development Group, Australia said "I am delighted to sponsor the team in this year's Indy Carnival and wished them the best of luck. We are excited to be involved with Nelson Philippe and Eric Bachelart from Conquest Racing for the Champ Car race on the Gold Coast later this month. Juniper is a major property developer in Australia and in particular in Queensland where the race is being held. It's one of the most exciting events in Australia and for Juniper to be involved with last year's winner is really something special."
"As well as being an international star, Nelson has been embraced by the Gold Coast community since winning last year's Lexmark Indy 300,'' Mr Juniper said.
``While he will be aiming for back-to-back crowns, Soul Surfers Paradise snared pole position the moment we secured such a spectacular beachfront locations at Surfers Paradise.''
"Juniper's Soul Surfers Paradise development has been carving a reputation for itself on the world stage and that will only be reinforced when Nelson lines up on the starting grid wearing Juniper's colours," Mr Juniper said.
An avid motorsport enthusiast, Mr Juniper competes in the Australian Carrera Cup championship and has raced in international events in Malaysia and Germany this year.
Philippe will get re-acquainted with the Champ Car DP01 later this week during testing at Putnam Park just outside of Indianapolis. A quick learner, Philippe took the green flag at Long Beach in 2004 at the age of 17.
"A star returns, and we couldn't be more pleased," said Champ Car President & CEO Steve Johnson. "Nelson lit up the Series last year with enhanced skills and his effervescent personality. I've been receiving emails all year long from fans asking, 'When are you going to get Nelson back in a Champ Car?' It took longer than we all hoped, but better late than never. We are sorry that the opportunity came at the expense of another driver, Jan Heylen, but we hope to see Jan back in Champ Car real soon"
"While we're pleased to get Nelson back into the Conquest fold, we are disappointed that it must come at Jan's expense", added Bachelart. "We simply are not equipped at this point to run two cars and the change is not a reflection on Jan's performance or professionalism. Indeed, Jan earned a podium finish for Conquest in Assen and proved to everyone that he is an exceptional talent."
About Juniper Property Development Group:
The Juniper Group is one of Australia's leading private property development companies achieving success through its core business of conceptualizing, developing, marketing & constructing international caliber projects in Australia's most sought after locations.
Established in 1992, the Group's steady growth has seen it compile a $1 billion plus portfolio that spans the spectrum from world-class tourism resorts and residential properties to strategic landholdings and commercial developments. The Juniper Group's projects stretch along Australia's eastern seaboard from Port Douglas in Queensland's tropical north to the Gold Coast in Queensland's south east. Additional information available at: www.juniper.com.au.
About Conquest Racing:
The 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.
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.
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. 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.
Conquest continued a long history of developing young drivers in 2006, as Andrew Ranger returned for his sophomore season to take tenth in the championship, the third consecutive season for the team to have a driver in the top-ten. The 2005 Champ Car Atlantic Champion Charles Zwolsman finished thirteenth in his rookie season, taking seven consecutive top-ten finishes with the team as he improved progressively throughout the season.
Additional information available at: www.conquestracing.com
About Nelson Philippe:
Born: July 23, 1986
Resides: Key Biscayne, Florida
Earned First Career Champ Car win at Surfers Paradise in 2006
Won Bosch Most Improved Driver Award in 2005 and 2006
Youngest driver ever to start a Champ Car race in 2004
Four top-10 finishes in rookie season
Scored podium finish in Barber Dodge Pro Series event in Vancouver 2003
Won Rock Island GP Pro Shifter 'King of the Streets' title in 2002
2006: Had a breakout season in 2006, earning one win and three podium finishes for CTE-HVM Racing. Earned his first podium finish at the historic Milwaukee Mile, coming home third after starting ninth. Finished the season on a high note, earning five top-seven finishes in his last six starts. The strong run included a third-place finish at Montreal and his first career Champ Car win at Surfers Paradise, Australia. His strong finish to the season earned him a career-best finish of fourth in the Champ Car World Series Championship point's standings with 231.
2005: Made great progress in his sophomore Champ Car campaign and was a consistent top-10 threat by the end of the season. Established new career bests in qualifying and race results capped by a strong seventh-place showing in the Mexico City season finale. Scored four top-10 runs over the season and was named as the recipient of the Bosch Most Improved Driver Award, an award voted on by his peers in the Series. Qualified a career-best sixth at San Jose. Led a race-high 23 laps in Monterrey. His Mexico City performance helped France clinch its first-ever Nation's Cup championship. Finished 13th in the Champ Car World Series Championship standings with 117 points.
2004: Became the youngest driver to ever start a Champ Car race, taking the green flag at Long Beach at the age of 17 years, eight months and 25 days. Competed in first five races of the season with Rocketsports Racing, earning top-10 finishes in Monterrey and Cleveland. Joined Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing for the last six events of the year and had better success, running a career-high ninth at Las Vegas. Scored back-to-back top-10 runs (Vegas, Australia).
2003: Ran first season of Barber Dodge Pro Series competition, finished ninth in final standings. Earned first series podium with third-place finish in Vancouver. Scored four top-5's and six top-10's.
2002: Raced in shifter karts, winning Rock Island GP 'King of the Streets' 125cc Pro Shifter title from pole. Won opening race of Winter Tour in Homestead, setting a lap record in the process. Sat on pole for SKUSA World Finals Pro Shifter 12cc race.
2001: Factory driver for Tony Kart. Won a pole in Italian Championship.
2000: Named top French driver in European Cadet Championships.
1999: Finished 10th in French Cadet Championships.
1998: Finished sixth in Argentina Pre-Junior Championships.