Conquest Racing’s Return to Indy It’s been five years since the Conquest Racing team has competed in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”. This year, thanks to the unification of American open-wheel racing, Conquest Racing will be making their return to Indy and will attempt to qualify for their second Indianapolis 500.
Their first step towards making the 33-car field starts today with the two-day Rookie Orientation Program in which the team’s two drivers, Jaime Camara (#34 Sangari) and Enrique Bernoldi (#36 Sangari) will be participating and getting their first taste of the 2.5-mile historic oval aboard the IndyCar Series Dallara.
Jaime Camara is no stranger to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway having competed there in Firestone Indy Lights the past three seasons which included a win in his rookie season in 2005 and two third place finishes.
“It’s going to be an amazing feeling to drive an IndyCar here since it’s always been my goal. This is the biggest race in the world, it’s such a different vibe. Every time I come to this track I look around and it’s just different, the energy is so good and it makes you even more excited for the race. It’s going to be somewhat new for me because I am going to be driving an IndyCar Series car but I know the track pretty good and I won here before in Indy Lights.
“My goal is always to do my best,” continued Camara. “I always think positive and think that we are going to do a really good job. My goal is to qualify in the first week and finish the race in a good, competitive position. It’s hard to be more specific because we don’t know where we are yet. After ROP and the first week I think we are going to know where we are in speeds and then we will be able to set more specific goals for ourselves.”
His teammate, Enrique Bernoldi, has yet to run a complete lap of the 2.5-mile oval but the Brazilian is still familiar with the surroundings after racing on the 2.606-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2001 during his Formula 1 days.
“When I raced here in Formula 1 the first time, I was very impressed with the short part of the oval that we ran,” said Bernoldi. “It was a nice atmosphere here the day of the race with such big stands which in Formula 1 in Europe we are not used to, I liked it a lot. Now, this time things are going to be different. I am going to drive in an even bigger race. I am anxious and very excited about this opportunity. Even when I was in Formula 1, I always wanted to one day race here, now I have the chance so I am very happy.
“I want to take things step by step. I don’t have a lot of oval experience so getting as much mileage as possible will be good and will help me get comfortable on this track. We will start with rookie orientation and then work on our qualifying set-up. Obviously my objective is to do my best in the race. The team has been doing a great job and I would like to reward them with a really good result here. I think overall it’s going to be an amazing experience.”
The Conquest drivers may be making their first IndyCar Series appearance at the Indy 500 but this will be team owner Eric Bachelart’s fifth “month of May”. He has made three appearances as a driver in 1992, 1993 and 1995, qualifying for the race in ’92 and ’95 while his first participation as an owner was in 2002 with driver Laurent Redon.
“Going to the Indy 500 is always very special because of everything it represents,” explained Bachelart. “There is no other race you can compare it to because of the format of the race, because of the speeds that we reach as well as the history and the tradition of it. You have to be very humble at Indy.”
Bachelart knows it won’t be an easy month but remains hopeful as to the team’s objectives.
“In our situation, we still have to catch up to the established teams and because we started so late on this program there are a lot of things still to get sorted. We’re still getting parts everyday.
“That being said, we would like to qualify both drivers in a good way and once we have attained that objective we would like to be in the top ten in the race. If we could get a top ten, it would be a very good achievement. It’s not going to be an easy one, because the field is going to be so strong, but it’s the goal we would like to reach.”
Once rookie orientation is complete, the team will be on track Tuesday through Friday in four six-hour practice sessions leading up to the first weekend of qualifying May 10 and 11. The second week will consist of three six-hour practice sessions, from Wednesday to Friday, before the third day of qualifying on Saturday, May 17 and Bump Day on May 18. The 92nd Indianapolis 500 takes place Sunday, May 25.
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