Conquest Racing

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Conquest's Enrique Bernoldi practices for the 2008 Indianapolis 500.

Conquest Racing is an auto racing team that competed in the IndyCar Series and the Atlantic Championship. Formerly it competed in the Champ Car World Series. It is owned by former series competitor Eric Bachelart. The team ran in Indy Lights competition in the late 1990s with Felipe Giaffone, who brought sponsorship from Hollywood cigarettes and Mi-Jack sponsored brothers Chris and Jamie Menninga. The team jumped to the Indy Racing League in 2002 with Laurent Rédon; the Frenchman won rookie of the year honors but was not retained when the team jumped ship to Champ Car in 2003.

The team ran Mario Haberfeld in an unloved Reynard chassis and shared information and resources with Emerson Fittipaldi's team, that ran future Formula One driver Tiago Monteiro. In 2004 the team expanded to two cars, fielding Justin Wilson in a Lola with several others in a Reynard. Wilson signed with RuSPORT for 2005 and Conquest ran teenagers Nelson Philippe and Andrew Ranger, each 18 years old when the season started.

While Philippe left for 2006, the team retained Ranger dependent on his Canadian sponsorship and signed 2005 Champ Car Atlantic champion Charles Zwolsman to the second car. There were rumors Darren Manning would replace Ranger early in the season but this was put to rest with his on-track performances and more money coming into the team. Internet betting web site Goldenpalace.com signed on as Zwolsman's sponsor at the second race in Houston.

The team branched into the Atlantic ranks in 2006 with drivers Graham Rahal and Al Unser III.

After the 2006 season, Mike Lanigan pulled his company's support from the race team due to a lack of funding[citation needed]. In a Speedtv.com article, Bachelart was about to shut down his team when his sponsor called with a deal for the 2007 season.[1] But on February 6, 2007 a New York based company, later confirmed to be vodka company 42 Below, gave them sponsorship with former A1 Grand Prix driver Matt Halliday. However, after poor performances in Vegas, Long Beach, and Houston, Halliday was released in favor of Jan Heylen. Jan Heylen drove the next 9 races for Conquest Racing and his best finish was a 2nd place at the Bavaria Grand Prix of Holland. On October 3 it was announced that Jan Heylen would be replaced for the rest of the season by the returning Nelson Philippe.

In Late December 2007 the team announced the signing of new marketing partner, Opes Prime Group Ltd, an Australian-based financial services provider. Following the unification of Champ Car and the Indy Racing League, Conquest was the first Champ Car team to confirm their participation in the IRL IndyCar Series, with driver Franck Perera named to drive one of the team's two cars.[2] The other driver entry has been confirmed as Enrique Bernoldi will be driving for Conquest Racing during the 2008 IRL Championship.

However on the eve of the opening race of the 2008 IndyCar Season, on 28 March 2008, Opes Prime was placed in receivership,and left the team shortly after. Sangari stepped up to sponsor both cars after Ares also left the team.[3] After the Long Beach Grand Prix, Perera was replaced in the #34 car by Jaime Camara to complete a fully Brazilian lineup. Alex Tagliani replaced Bernoldi in the last three races of the season due to an injury.

Tagliani ran for the team part-time in 2009, including the Toronto Grand Prix that saw Tagliani lead a majority of the race before being eliminated in a late race crash. Conquest Racing entered a second car for the 2009 Indianapolis 500 with Bruno Junqueira the driver of the number 36. Junqueira qualified for the 500, while Tagliani did not, which resulted in Tagliani taking over the 36 car for the 500.

Nelson Philippe returned to the team late in 2009 after Tagliani and Conquest parted ways. The season was cut short for Phillipe and Conquest after a horrifying accident with Will Power at Infineon Raceway.

Mario Romancini was announced as the driver of the Conquest Racing number 34 for the entire IndyCar Series 2010 schedule. Bertrand Baguette began running for the team in a second car at Barber, bringing Belgian sponsorship. The team placed both cars in the Indianapolis 500 where Romancini finished 13th and Baguette ended up in 22nd after losing a mirror early in the race. Conquest Racing planned to continue running both drivers for the remainder of the season but replaced Romancini with Francesco Dracone at Mid-Ohio and Infineon due to Romancini's lack of sponsorship.

For 2011, the team will run only one car, the 34, with Colombian driver Sebastian Saavedra.

In 2012, the team decided to leave the Indycar series and enter the American Le Mans Series with a Morgan-Nissan LMP2 prototype. The team took its first victory at the 2012 Grand Prix of Mosport.

IRL/CCWS[edit]

Year Car Drivers Races Wins Poles Fast laps Points D.C.
Indy Racing League Results
2002 Dallara-Infiniti France Laurent Redon 15 0 0 0 229 12th
CART/Champ Car World Series Results
2003 Reynard-Cosworth Brazil Mario Haberfeld 18 0 0 0 71 12th
2004 Lola/Reynard-Cosworth United Kingdom Justin Wilson 14 0 0 0 188 11th
Brazil Alex Sperafico 8 0 0 0 47 19th
France Nelson Philippe 6 0 0 0 89 16th
2005 Lola-Cosworth Canada Andrew Ranger 13 0 0 0 140 10th
France Nelson Philippe 13 0 0 0 117 13th
2006 Lola-Cosworth Canada Andrew Ranger 14 0 0 0 200 10th
Netherlands Charles Zwolsman, Jr. 14 0 0 0 161 13th
2007 Panoz-Cosworth New Zealand Matt Halliday 3 0 0 0 18 21st
Belgium Jan Heylen 9 0 0 0 104 16th
France Nelson Philippe 2 0 0 0 28 19th
IndyCar Series Results
2008 Dallara-Honda
Panoz-Cosworth2
France Franck Perera 31 0 0 0 71 29th
Brazil Enrique Bernoldi 15 0 0 0 220 22nd
Dallara-Honda Brazil Jaime Camara 15 0 0 0 174 23rd
Canada Alex Tagliani 3 0 0 0 56 32nd
2009 Dallara-Honda Canada Alex Tagliani 7 0 0 0 114 22nd
Brazil Bruno Junqueira 0 0 0 0 0 NA
France Nelson Philippe 01 0 0 0 16 35th
Japan Kosuke Matsuura 1 0 0 0 13 36th
2010 Dallara-Honda Brazil Mario Romancini 11 0 0 0 149 24th
Belgium Bertrand Baguette 15 0 0 0 213 22nd
Italy Francesco Dracone 2 0 0 0 24 37th
South Africa Tomas Scheckter 21 0 0 0 89 29th
United States Roger Yasukawa 1 0 0 0 12 40th
Colombia Sebastián Saavedra 11 0 0 0 29 33rd
2011 Dallara-Honda Colombia Sebastián Saavedra 14 0 0 0 178 25th
Brazil João Paulo de Oliveira 1 0 0 0 10 44th
United Kingdom Dillon Battistini 1 0 0 0 10 46th
United Kingdom Pippa Mann 11 0 0 0 32 38th

1Driver competed for Conquest in addition to another team that season.
2Only used for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

References[edit]

  1. ^ New Sponsor for Conquest Racing?, PaddockTalk.com, February 6, 2007
  2. ^ Lewandowski, Dave. Conquest Racing the first to make move; Perera named, IndyCar.com, February 25, 2008
  3. ^ Lyndal McFarland and Andrew Harrison. 'Irregularities' At Opes Prime Trigger Probe, Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2008

External links[edit]