MIXED EMOTIONS FOR CONQUEST RACING TEAM AT INDIANPOLIS 500 QUALIFICATIONS

INDIANAPOLIS (May 22, 2011) – Conquest Racing’s Pippa Mann will make her IZOD IndyCar Series debut in the No. 36 car for the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500. The 27 year-old from the United Kingdom qualified 32nd. Her teammate Sebastian Saavedra was not as fortunate, as he failed to qualify the No. 34 car for the historic race on the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.5-mile oval.

Neither driver made the 33-car field on the first day of qualifications on Saturday, which left them vying with 13 other drivers for the nine remaining spots on Bump Day. Mann was able to complete a qualifying run with a four-lap average speed of 223.936 mph before rain interrupted the session, fast enough to put her on the provisional grid.

Pippa Mann, Conquest Racing and Eric Bachelart
Pippa Mann, Conquest Racing and Eric Bachelart

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

When Saavedra made his first qualifying run of the day, 33 cars had already provisionally qualified. Faced with “bumping” a slower driver from the field, his four-lap average speed of 222.284 mph was not enough to put him on the grid. After the rain delay, the 20-year-old Columbian nearly brushed the Turn 2 wall on the third lap of his second qualifying attempt and waved off. He made a third and final attempt with just minutes left in the session, but was not fast enough to make the grid.

Mann will start from the middle of the last row for the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 29. The race will be broadcast on ABC beginning at 11 a.m. (ET).

Pippa Mann, No. 36 Conquest Racing "I’m just so excited to be racing in the Indy 500, but I think relief is the overwhelming feeling after the last two days that we’ve had. Thursday and Friday were so strong for us and the speed just seemed to slip away when it mattered. This is the first time I’ve allowed myself to genuinely think about race day, and we have some work to do now! I’m just so thrilled to be part of this race and making the field is an achievement that I’m incredibly proud of. It was not an easy feat, so a huge thank you to the team and everyone who has supported me and helped us get to this point – it’s a fantastic feeling.”

It’s a situation I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy ...

Sebastian Saavedra

Sebastian Saavedra, No. 34 Conquest Racing “It is disappointing. It’s a situation I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, but it happens. We gave it our all. I have to thank the complete Conquest Racing team and especially the 34 crew. The competition this year was amazing. It was maybe the toughest edition to qualify for the Indy 500 in decades. There were some big name teams fighting to make it in, so I can hold my head up and say I’m proud of the effort we made. I’m disappointed, but very happy for the team and for Pippa. She did an amazing job of putting the car in the show. I’ll give her all my support and any little advice I can. I’m part of the team, so I hope we make a good run out of it. This is the highest level of racing competition in the world. It’s just an honor to be a part of this very selective group. It’s a long year, so we have to forget what happened today and focus on the next race.”

Eric Bachelart, Conquest Racing Team Owner “It’s very mixed feelings having one car in the show and the other not make it, but it’s not for the lack of trying. We are looking forward to a good race for Pippa, and hoping she wins Chase Rookie of the Year. This is her first race in an IndyCar, and we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us so we’re going to be very busy this week.”