Heylen to race full Champ Car season for Conquest Racing
Indianapolis, IN (1 June 07)-Jan Heylen, who was recently announced as a driver in the inaugural Champ Car World Series event at Zolder, has now also been confirmed to a race seat with Conquest Racing in all remaining Champ Car races in 2007, beginning with next weekend's event in Portland. Conquest Racing is owned and managed by fellow Belgian Eric Bachelart.
Heylen will get to work straight away, testing today at Putnam Park near the team's headquarters in Indianapolis to get acquainted with the all-new Panoz DP01 machine. Heylen has already been fitted for his race seat, and has spent time with the Conquest Racing engineers to study data in advance of his first hot laps in the Conquest machine.
The signing marks a reunion of sorts, as Heylen got his first taste of Champ Car with Conquest Racing, testing with the team after winning the Renault Megane Eurocup Championship.
"It's nice to be racing with Eric's team after getting to test with them back in 2005," said Heylen. "I know what the team is capable of and I think we can accomplish some good results."
But the young Heylen, who scored a best result of fifth during his rookie Champ Car season in 2006, knows that with a late start to the season, and a new car to adapt to, that the results are unlikely to be instant.
"I'm well aware that it will be difficult in Portland to just have one day of experience in the car before the weekend starts, but we will make the best of it," said Heylen. "We will be testing after the Portland race weekend and I am confident we will catch up as quickly as we can."
The Champ Car World Series has a schedule befitting its name once again this year, as the championship will once again contest two rounds in Europe, including making a debut at Zolder on the weekend of August 24-26.
"I have been the ambassador for Zolder for the last three years, and now to have the chance to come back and race at home is going to be something quite special for me," said Heylen. "I want to thank Meindert van Buuren and everyone at Zolder, Eric Bachelart, the investors and all the people at Champ Car who have believed in me to get to this point."
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. "We've known him for some time now, and he showed promise in his rookie year so we are looking forward to racing with him this season."
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.
"Racing in Belgium with Jan as our driver is something I am really looking forward to," said Bachelart. "I have raced there many, many times, but this year will be a memorable one no question."
"Just after the Portland race Eric and I will be flying to Belgium to make further announcements in regard to the specific sponsorship details and also some of the promotional activities that are being discussed for the Zolder race. As of yet, there hasn't been a specific date or time set for the conference but we'll alert the media when the schedule is finalized."
Heylen won the 2002 Formula Ford Festival before moving up the European single-seater ranks with campaigns in F3 and F3000. Racing for DCR, 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.