Conquest Racing happy with test results Conquest Racing wrapped up their pre-season testing yesterday at Homestead-Miami Speedway ahead of this weekend’s first race of the 2008 IndyCar Series season. The test was deemed successful by team owner Eric Bachelart as well as drivers Enrique Bernoldi (#36 Opes Prime Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and Franck Perera (#34 ARES/Opes Prime Dallara/Honda/Firestone), who were making their first appearance on an oval track.
While the first day was dedicated to getting the drivers acclimated to driving on an oval, day two was focused on finding speed, preparing for the first race of the season and getting used to the wind, who decided to be a factor in the second day of testing. Bernoldi completed a total of 186 laps aboard his Opes Prime machine and set his fastest lap on day two. His lap of 25.4470 seconds (210.084 mph) was a little over three tenths of a second off the best time registered during the test.
“I’m happy with how the test went,” expressed Bernoldi who ended up fourth quickest overall and second amongst the transition teams. “The times from the transition teams were very close but we do know that we still have to catch up to the established IndyCar Series teams which will take some time but it’s a good start for us. I look forward to the race this weekend. My goal will be to simply finish it in the best position possible and to keep the car intact. It’s the best way to gain experience and keep getting better. Racing at night will also be new to me. I thought it would affect our vision but it wasn’t too different because the lighting is very good.”
Perera, the 2007 Atlantic Championship runner-up, completed 172 laps over the two days and put in a fastest lap of 25.5560 seconds (209.188 mph).
“Yesterday was better than Monday, for sure,” said Perera. “The more laps I put in, the more I build my confidence level. We were able to find a little bit more speed and focus more on the set up of the car yesterday and we had the added difficulty of dealing with the wind. There is still a lot to learn, but the best learning experience will be the race itself. Our expectations for the weekend are realistic and our goal is to soak up the most experience possible. I also look forward to racing at night because I never have done that before. Racing under the lights is even more exciting and it creates a completely different atmosphere than during the day, making it even more interesting.”
Conquest Racing owner Eric Bachelart commented: “It was a very satisfying test on the oval. We can now better quantify the progress we have to make to be more competitive and run at the front on this type of track. This being said, the test went very smoothly and I am proud of what this whole team and the drivers have achieved in such a short period of time. Enrique and Franck progressed well over both days and did a very good job for never having driven on an oval. But these last two days were only the beginning of what will be a year of learning ovals, the best experience they will get, will be in a race situation starting this weekend. Our goal is to do the best we can and learn as much as possible and to keep improving over the season.”
Conquest Racing will be back on track Friday at 11:30 a.m. for the first practice session of the Gainsco Auto Insurance Indy 300 which takes place at 8:00 pm Saturday, March 29. The 200 lap race will be broadcast live on ESPN 2.
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