Two Frenchmen to test for Conquest Conquest Racing, boasting a history of working with young, up-and-coming drivers, announced today that 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Champion Simon Pagenaud and 2007 Champ Car Atlantic runner-up Franck Perera will be participating in the upcoming Champ Car World Series open test at Sebring International Raceway. [Editor's Note: Both are from France. Could Conquest racing become Team France?]
Pagenaud, from Poitiers, France, had an excellent rookie season in the 2007 Champ Car World Series with Team Australia. He scored six top-fives including three consecutive fourth-place finishes in the Canadian Triple Crown events with a best starting position of second. Pagenaud also won the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic title on the strength of six podium finishes and nine top-five finishes. Earlier in his career, the Frenchman competed in the World Series by Renault recording eight top-10 and three top-five finishes in 2005.
Perera, a 23-year-old native of Montpellier, France, hopes to enter the Champ Car World Series as a rookie after an outstanding season in the Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, where he finished in the top five at every 2007 race. Perera scored eight consecutive podiums to end the season, including three victories (Mont-Tremblant, Toronto and Road America) with two coming from pole position. He also completed every lap of the 12-race season and led 116 of them. He ended the season only 31 points out of first place.
“I’m not alone among Champ Car team owners who believe Franck was the ‘crème de la crème’ in Atlantics in 2007,” said Eric Bachelart, Conquest Racing team owner. “Similarly, Champ Car fans already know that Simon is the real deal. He had a fabulous rookie season in Champ Cars last year as well as in Atlantics in 2006, when he beat us for the Championship.
"We couldn’t be happier to have both Franck and Simon in our cars as we prepare for the 2008 season. There already is good chemistry with both drivers and now we will be able to build on that and prepare for the season, starting this weekend at the open test in Sebring.”
Anthony Blumberg, Conquest Racing's new partner and team co-owner added: "I believe that having Simon and Franck test is a testament to Conquest Racing's commitment and desire to take this team to the next level. They both have demonstrated in the past that they can perform well in anything they drive and I think we can expect good results from our ‘French duo.’ "
“I’m really happy to be with Conquest Racing this weekend,” expressed Pagenaud. "I have the opportunity to run for Eric, who has put together a very good program for 2008. I think Conquest Racing will be very competitive this year. They have very competent people on the team and we can expect good results.
"This weekend will be my first test with them and I hope to get things started in the right direction in Sebring. I also wish to thank Derrick Walker and Craig Gore, who gave me the chance to come race in America as a professional race car driver. We had two very good seasons together.”
Perera, who previously tested for Forsythe-Pettit Racing, is grateful for the additional test time.
“I’m very excited to be working with Conquest Racing,” said Perera, the 2007 Champ Car Atlantic Rookie of the Year. “I want to thank Eric Bachelart for the opportunity. Now I can’t wait to get into his car this weekend in Sebring and work with his team.”
Prior to his Atlantic season, Perera—nicknamed “Fearless Franck”—built up quite a resume. He was one of the first two drivers signed in 2001 to the Toyota F-1 Young Driver Program. He won numerous karting titles including the World Karting Formula A Championship in 1999 (he was also Vice-Champion in 2000), the Karting Junior French Championship and the Karting Junior European Championship in 1998. Other career highlights include a second-place finish in GP2 in Monaco in 2006, a fifth-place finish in Macau in 2004 in the F3 Euro Series where he also took “Rookie of the Year” honors and he was crowned Formula Renault 2.0 champion in 2003.
The ‘French duo’ will be on track at Sebring International Raceway in Florida from February 2 to 4.