Conquest Sebring race report

Conquest Endurance press release

Conquest Endurance is a ‘Survivor’ at Sebring

Though it never had to go in front of a Tribal Council this past week, the Conquest Endurance team’s first race in the American Le Mans Series Presented by Tequila Patrón had as many twists, turns and drama as a full seaon of the long-running reality TV show ‘Survivor.’

#37 Conquest Endurance Morgan Judd: Martin Plowman, David Heinemeier Hansson, Francesco Dracone
#37 Conquest Endurance Morgan Judd: Martin Plowman, David Heinemeier Hansson, Francesco Dracone

Photo by: Richard Sloop

From taking delivery – at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway – of its Onroak Automotive designed and built 2012 Morgan-Judd car just one week before the race, to finding a substitute third driver just 12 hours before the green flag, Conquest Endurance and owner Eric Bachelart kept earning ‘Survivor’-like immunity to get them to the end of one of the most grueling races in North American motorsports.

The Conquest Endurance ALMS debut came in the 60th Anniversary of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida. It’s an event that just making it to the finish in the middle of the Florida darkness is an accomplishment. But in its first ALMS and Sebring race, Conquest Endurance not only survived, it thrived.

Drivers Martin Plowman, David Heinemeier Hansson and late-addition Jan Heylen deftly negotiated traffic created by 62 cars racing around the bumpy and grueling 3.74-mile Sebring circuit for 12 hours. They pushed when they could and were patient when they needed to be. The drivers’ performance was equalled by the Conquest Endurance crew, which had to make a gear change back in the paddock area during the middle of the race.

Just like a season of ‘Survivor’ on TV, Conquest Endurance has learned how to play the game of high-stakes sports car racing and is ready for its next challenge.

Plowman Quote: “It was very hairy at the start, a lot more aggressive than it was in practice. I was overly cautious at the beginning of my stint. And to make things worse, my radio came unplugged so I couldn’t hear for my first stint. We came in a little bit early to fill up with fuel and fix the radio. The car was getting better and better, and I was getting into a good rhythm.”

Heinemeier Hansson Quote: “It’s an absolutely fantastic car to drive. All of the problems we seemed to have yesterday with the brakes are gone. Once the tires are hot, the car is in really good shape. It’s a very easy car to turn fast, consistent laps in, even in traffic. We had some learning issues with the pit stops and some problems with the radio, which is why we’re down a few laps. But I was very happy with the pace and the car. Hopefully, we can win it back. The first half of my stint, the radio didn’t work at all. To compound that problem, the low fuel lamp went on right as I went out, so I didn’t know if I was close to running out of fuel or not. By the time I saw the pit-in board, I ran out of fuel a few corners later.”

Heylen quote: “Unfortunately, we just broke third gear. It’s just one of those things. The car was running well. I was in a good rhythm after my first stop. It was just really unfortunate. The guys obviously worked so hard to get the car here to Sebring, and it’s just a shame. Hopefully, we’ll have the car out in a half hour and still score some points for the championship.”

Conquest Racing Sebring Race Quotes

Martin Plowman “It was obviously a disappointing day, but it was really important to get back out and log miles so we can all learn. Last Saturday was the first time that the car rolled out of the box, so it’s been a very, very steep learning curve. Obviously, we would have loved to had done better, but I think we can take away a lot of lessons today as a whole team. There have been a lot of promising signs that the pace can be there, and we’ve just got to put the pieces together and minimize the mistakes and apply that to a whole race weekend. The important thing about finishing is we take away points. If we don’t finish we don’t get points. I think we’ve made a lot of progress. A week in the car is a week in the car, and we’ve discovered a lot of things that we can fix. Long Beach is always a great track, and I have a really good feeling around there. This track (Sebring) was mostly new to me, but Long Beach is a track I know real well so I can hit the ground running. It’s more of a sprint format and a little more like what I’m used to.”

David Heinemeier Hansson “I was hoping that we would get as much running in as we could to get as much experience as we could since we’re still all new to the car, and we did that. We lost 25 laps or something close to that number to a blown gearbox, but we still managed to get a lot of sessions in and a lot of good practice. I feel like I know the car much, much better than I did before. I just got a lot more comfortable with the brakes in particular, how deep I could take it in and keep it on the limit of the downforce. It’s something that you just get with laps.”

Jan Heylen “It was nice to finish the race. I was hoping to put a couple of good laps in at the end, and it just didn’t work out with the traffic. With me getting the call last night at 10:30, we weren’t as well prepared as we could have been. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a proper seat insert and on this last stint, I simply couldn’t see. I was sitting so low, I could kind of work around it when it was light out, but I couldn’t see anything in the dark. But the car was working well, and obviously I’m super happy to be here and to have done this with Conquest, David and Martin. It was a very good experience. Hopefully we can do it again. I think we did well all things considered. It was the first time for me here at Sebring doing the Twelve Hours in a P2 car, so I think we did alright. We put some decent times in. Like I said, hopefully we can come back and do it again.”

Eric Bachelart “We finished the race, and that’s what we wanted to do. We had a few issues related to the new car, so we have some work to do when we get back. But we wanted to finish this first race in one piece, and we did. We had a problem with the gearbox. One of the gears broke, but other than that the car was pretty amazing. The car is finally going to see the shop this week, and we’re going to address different issues that we had so we’ll be ready to go to Long Beach. All together, the guys did a really good job. We learned a lot, and there were quite a few people on board. I feel that now we’ve learned all of these things and now we can build, but we had to start somewhere. I’m very proud of all the guys and very thankful because everyone has been working very hard. It’s been a very long week, and we’ve put a lot of hours into this project. Now it’s back to Indianapolis to regroup and move forward.

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Series ALMS
Tags bachelart, conquest, hansson, judd, morgan, plowman

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