Indianapolis Motor Speedway
CONQUEST RACING DRIVERS SET FOR INDIANAPOLIS 500 QUALIFYING
INDIANAPOLIS – Conquest Racing drivers Sebastian Saavedra and Pippa Mann know the competition is fierce, but are prepared to qualify tomorrow for the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500.
Bad weather plagued the week’s practice sessions at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, limiting the number of laps turned by the teams. Saavedra also encountered mechanical issues during the last day of practice in the No. 34 and searched for speed. The 20-year-old Columbian turned a best lap of 222.926 miles per hour Friday.
Compared to last year the competition is a lot harder.
“It was a very positive day for us,” Saavedra said. “We made amazing progress from where we ended up yesterday. Unfortunately, we seemed to have a mechanical failure at the end of the day, and we couldn’t get the speed we wanted from it. But, we’re very positive on finding it and making it work for tomorrow.”
With 42 cars vying for the 33 starting positions, the IZOD IndyCar rookie acknowledges qualifying is going to be very tight.
“Compared to last year the competition is a lot harder,” he said. “It’s going to be twice as hard to get in. The speeds are getting very close to each other and it’s going to be very interesting. But team owner Eric Bachelart has a very good hand – he drew us the first qualifying attempt, which is the best time to go out. The cooler conditions are good for the engine and good for the aero. We’ll have to take advantage of that first 30 minutes of practice to get as much done as possible to have a good run.”
Mann had her best stint in the No. 36 on the day’s very last run with a fast lap of 225.432 mph. The British driver was last year’s Freedom 100 polesitter, and is making her IZOD IndyCar Series debut at the famed 2.5-mile oval.
"One of the things everybody has been telling me about Indy since I first got here is how much the track can change,” Mann said. “We were in a fairly good position mid-way through the afternoon and came back to the garage. Towards the end of the session, we went back out and picked up one or two issues which we then had to try and sort out.
One or two issues when you're running that much negative rear wing is not necessarily the best preparation we could have, this close to qualifying. However, on our very last run we ran our best four-lap stint - all in clean air. We had a bit of a big drop-off on the last lap, but we got three really good ones in altogether.”
Conquest Racing team owner Eric Bachelart is hoping to see both cars make the gird Saturday on Pole Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“Pippa has been comfortable this week in practice so we are looking forward to her putting the No. 36 car in the show,” he said. “Sebastian has been looking for more speed, but we found some problems with the car that will be fixed for tomorrow, so we expect progress from the practice times.
“This field is extremely competitive,” he added. “In fact it might be the most competitive I’ve ever seen in IndyCar. It’s going to be a very intense qualifying weekend, but I have faith in our both drivers and in the quality of the preparation we put into our cars.”