Question: After many years in the open-wheel world, Conquest Endurance made its sports car racing debut at the 12 Hours of Sebring, what have been some of the challenges and how has this transition been so far for the team?
Eric Bachelart: The main challenge has definitely been dealing with a very short time period to work on the car. We only received it a few days before Sebring so we didn’t even have time to get it to our shop and that made it difficult. The second challenge has been getting used to the specifics of racing in the American Le Mans Series and doing endurance races which is very different than what we’ve been used to doing before. But overall the team did a great job and to get on track and be successful in such a small window of time is very impressive.
Competing in the American Le Mans Series is something that I’ve been wanting to do for quite a while. We had our first experience assisting Zytek at Petit Le Mans in 2008 and now I’m very happy to be doing it full time. We have a very good team, fast drivers, and a competitive chassis; we want to be competitive and win races.
Q: The Morgan chassis proved to be extremely quick at Sebring. Do you think this speed can be carried over to the different type of tracks at which the ALMS races?
EB: Absolutely, the car has a lot of potential and hopefully we’ll do some more development with it and will keep improving it. We are working very closely with Oak in France and we’ve already seen what this chassis can do by taking the pole and the fastest lap at the 12 Hours of Sebring. The car has a lot of potential and we look forward to showcasing its speed at the rest of the ALMS events this year.
Q: After a successful podium debut at Sebring for the team, what are the expectations for 2012?
EB: Even though the podium at Sebring was a bit of a lucky one, we have high expectations for 2012. We have two very good drivers and we will try to fight for wins everywhere we go; I believe we have the potential to do that. We want to show people what the Morgan car can do and as their distributors we want to see more cars on the track next year.
Q: With new teams and manufacturers coming into LMP2, what are your thoughts on the future of the category?
EB: I think that the new rules and the price cap for the P2 cars have been very successful; it’s made the budgets and operating costs quite appealing. The cars are beautiful and they perform very well. The category just keeps getting more competitive by the day.
It’s good to see that there are more cars and manufacturers coming into the series and I strongly believe that success will attract more success so hopefully the category will keep growing this year and be even stronger in 2013.
Q: Which ALMS event are you looking forward to the most this year and why?
EB: That’s a tough one. I think that all the races of the championship are quite appealing because they are not only all very nice racetracks, but its also a fairly well diversified schedule between temporary street circuits and permanent road courses. But I will be very happy to go back to tracks like Laguna Seca and Road America which are beautiful tracks that we haven’t seen in a while. We missed them while in IndyCar and we are very happy to be going back there with ALMS.
Q: Next on the schedule is Long Beach. What meaning does this event have for the team?
EB: I’ve always enjoyed Long Beach; its one of my favorite events and I’ve had success there both as a driver and as a team owner. I’ve been to the race pretty much every year since 1990, but this is the first time that we’ll go there with a sports car. I know the track very well and so does the team, we’ve been there with many types of cars including Indy Lights, Champ Cars and IndyCars. Long Beach is very special to me because it’s a track and an event that I truly enjoy personally.
The ALMS is preparing the second round of its 10-race championship: the Tequila PatrÂ¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach. ESPN2 will air the race live from the world famous Long Beach street circuit just outside Los Angeles starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. The race will still be carried simultaneously on ESPN3.