Conquest Racing Heads to Long Beach for Champ Car Finale After Strong IndyCar Series Start

16.04.2008: Conquest Racing Heads to Long Beach for Champ Car Finale After Strong IndyCar Series Start

It’s with plenty of momentum, thanks to a strong start to their IndyCar Series season, that the Conquest Racing team is heading to California to take part in their 74th and final Champ Car World Series race at the 34th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach this weekend from April 18 – 20.

After two races in the unified IndyCar Series, the team will be returning to the more familiar surroundings of the DP01 and the 1.968-mile Long Beach street course to say goodbye to the Series in which they competed for the last five years.

With a strong performance at the final Champ Car open test in Sebring in February, where driver Franck Perera topped the speed charts, Conquest Racing expects to run at the top this weekend and end their Champ Car stint on a high note.

Conquest Racing at a glance

Champ Car World Series Starts: 73

Best Finish: 2nd

Best Start: 2nd

IndyCar Series starts: 19

Best Start: 4th

Best Finish: 2nd

Conquest Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Stats

Starts: 6

Best Finish: 6th (twice)

Best Start: 11th

Long Beach Conquest Racing Pre-race Notes

Strong Start

The team’s strong start to the IndyCar Series season has given them plenty of momentum to ride on entering this race. The season opener in Homestead saw both Conquest drivers bring their cars home with rookie Franck Perera offering an impressive performance in his debut on an oval track.

The pair of Perera and Enrique Bernoldi then showed much promise on the streets of St. Petersburg two weeks ago in their first street course showing aboard the Dallara. During the course of the race both drivers ran in the top two, battled with established IndyCar Series teams such as Ganassi and Andretti Green Racing and Bernoldi led his first laps on his way to a top five finish.

Hello and Goodbye

While the team will be saying their "Au Revoir" to the Champ Car World Series in their sixth start at Long Beach , Enrique Bernoldi and Franck Perera will be making their debut and saying goodbye at the same time to the Champ Car World Series at the 34th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Getting to know you, part two

Both Conquest drivers have only one other outing with the DP01 under their belt. It was during an open test in Sebring at the beginning of February. Perera, who was testing with Conquest topped the charts, ahead of drivers such as Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson while Bernoldi was testing with Rocketsports Racing.

The Transition

Conquest Racing is one of five teams making the transition to the new unified IndyCar Series this season. Previously the team founded by 1991 Indy Lights Champion Eric Bachelart competed for five seasons in the Champ Car World Series, claiming 2 podium finishes and 55 top-tens in 73 races.

The Indianapolis-based team is entering their second full season of competition in the IndyCar Series. Their first full season of competition was in 2002 with French driver Laurent Redon, who took "Rookie of the Year" honors that season. The team has one podium finish to its credit, a third place finish in Fontana that same year.

What did you do after St. Pete?

There wasn’t much rest for the Conquest drivers after the St. Petersburg IndyCar Series race as both drivers participated in their first Indy 500 Media Tour last Wednesday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Bernoldi also took advantage of his time in Indianapolis to get his seat fitting for the DP01 before heading back to Miami to spend time with his wife and daughter before his trip to California .

As for Perera, who now calls Indianapolis home, the Frenchman did some local TV interviews in his time between races and showed his trainer, who flew in from Europe for the next few weeks, around Indy.

Long Beach Franck Perera Pre-race Notes

The Frenchman will be competing for the second time in his career on the streets of Long Beach . His first appearance came last season in the Atlantic Championship where he qualified second and finished fifth in his second Atlantic race. This year’s event will mark his first and last Champ Car World Series race.

Long Beach Enrique Bernoldi Pre-race Notes

Will be making his first start in Long Beach , which will also be his first and final Champ Car World Series start.

CONQUEST RACING QUOTEBOARD

#34 Franck Perera Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone

Champ Car starts: 0

IndyCar Series Starts: 2

Best Finish: 14th

Best Start: 10th

IndyCar Series "Rookie of the Year" standings: 7th

Points Standings: 20th

"It will be a little weird this weekend getting into the cockpit of the Panoz after getting used to the Dallara these past weeks! But I am looking forward to it. We were quick in that car in the Sebring test in February and I think we can aim for a podium finish in Long Beach .

This race gives us a really good chance of scoring some important IndyCar points. But I think overall this weekend will be a great show for the fans, a last chance for them to see the Champ Cars in action. There is also a nice mix of drivers in the lineup and I’m looking forward to competing against them."

#36 Enrique Bernoldi Sangari Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone

Champ Car Starts: 0

IndyCar Series Starts: 2

Best Finish: 5th

Best Start: 17th

"Rookie of the Year" Standings: 3rd

Points Standings: 10th

"I’m looking forward to another street course this weekend, as well as my first and last Champ Car race! I had a lot of fun in St. Petersburg in the Dallara and even if I will be driving a different kind of car in Long Beach I think we can do well there.

I enjoyed driving the DP01 at the last Champ Car open test in Sebring in February. It’s very powerful and fun to drive and I’m happy that I have the chance to at least do one race with it! We’ve probably all said it, but our main goal in Long Beach is to score maximum points and move up in the standings. It’s opportunity for us to do that."

Eric Bachelart, owner Conquest Racing

"It will be a bittersweet weekend as we say goodbye to Champ Car and use our DP01s one last time. As much as this race will be a show for the fans we have to remember that this event is an important race for us because we want to leave with as many points as possible for the IndyCar Series Championship.

I just hope that the guys doing one-off races remember that! We’ve had a really strong start to our season and I think we can expect great things from both Enrique and Franck in Long Beach .

They’ve done an excellent job so far this season in a completely new environment for them so even if this will be their first and final Champ Car race, I think they can do very well."

 

- Karina Redmond -

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16.04.2008 / MaP

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