Conquest signs Heylen
Indianapolis, IN (1 June 07)-Conquest Racing team owner Eric Bachelart announced today that Belgian racer Jan Heylen will race with Conquest for the remainder of the Champ Car World Series season. Heylen will test with the team at Putnam Park on Friday in advance of making his Champ Car sophomore season debut at Portland International Raceway in round four of the 2007 Champ Car season.
Heylen, who won the 2002 Formula Ford Festival before moving up the European single-seater ranks with campaigns in F3 and F3000, tested with the team in 2005 after winning the Renault Megane Eurocup Championship. Heylen had a solid Champ Car rookie season in 2006, scoring seventh in his Champ Car debut, taking top-tens at Montreal and Road America and recording a season-best finish of fifth in Cleveland.
"I have been working hard to get back into Champ Car, and I am very excited to be racing for a team like Conquest," said Heylen. "The team gave me my first test in Champ Car and now I am looking forward to racing with them. It has been quite frustrating to be watching the first few races of the year from the pits, but now I have a good opportunity to compete with Conquest."
The signing reflects in part some of the new opportunities available as the Champ Car series grows to include new European markets for 2007 and beyond.
"Obviously our race at Zolder will be a highlight and everybody has been working very hard to make that a success," said Heylen. "But we are focused on getting some solid results here in the States first. I am looking forward to getting comfortable with the new car, and I'm really excited to be racing again starting at Portland."
Bachelart, who won the Indy Lights Championship as a driver before moving into team ownership, is pleased to sign his countryman as he continues the Conquest Racing tradition of developing talent in the Champ Car ranks.
"We are excited about having Jan join us for the rest of the season," said Bachelart. "Jan has tested with us before, and showed promise in his rookie year. He will get a chance to get comfortable with the new car before we go to Portland and we will continue to test whenever possible to catch up with the rest of the guys."
With a Belgian-owned team campaigning a Belgian driver, the partnership figures to make Heylen and Conquest Racing instant fan favorites when the Champ Cars debut at Zolder in Belgium this August.
"I had my first race at Zolder when I was just starting as a driver, and it is something quite special for us to be racing there this year," said Bachelart. "I have raced there many, many times, but this year will be a memorable one no question."
The Champ Car World Series will race again at Portland International Raceway on June 10th for round four of the 2007 season. Conquest Racing will also be competing in the Champ Car Atlantic double header event at Portland with drivers Matt Lee and Giacomo Ricci.
About Conquest Racing:
1991 Indy Lights Champion Eric Bachelart started Conquest Racing in 1997 to compete in the Indy Lights series, scoring a podium finish with driver Christophe Tinseau in the team's first season. Conquest Racing competed in the next four seasons in Indy Lights, winning races with Felipe Giaffone and Kristian Kolby.
Conquest Racing contested the 2002 Indy Racing League season with rookie Laurent Redon, netting a podium finish in just the third race of the season and clinching the Rookie of the Year award.
Conquest Racing rejoined the Champ Car family in 2003, stepping up to the Champ Car World Series with Brazilian Mario Haberfeld and scoring eleven top-ten finishes despite competing with a Reynard. Conquest Racing continued its tradition of working well with young drivers in 2004 as Justin Wilson took second in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year battle, with Nelson Philippe scoring two top-ten finishes after joining the team in the closing stages of the season.
Conquest continued a long history of developing young drivers in 2006, as Andrew Ranger returned for his sophomore season to take tenth in the drivers championship, the third consecutive season for the team to have a driver in the top-ten. 2005 Champ Car Atlantic Champion Charles Zwolsman finished thirteenth in his rookie season, taking seven consecutive top-ten finishes with the team as he improved progressively throughout the season.