Conquest Racing's Franck Perera Top Rookie in IndyCar Series Opener at Homestead Homestead, Fla. (March 29, 2008) - It was quite a learning experience for the Conquest Racing pair of Enrique Bernoldi ( ...
Conquest Racing's Franck Perera Top Rookie in IndyCar Series Opener at Homestead
Homestead, Fla. (March 29, 2008) - It was quite a learning experience for the Conquest Racing pair of Enrique Bernoldi (#36 Opes Prime/Sangari Dallara/Honda/Firestone) and Franck Perera (#34 ARES/Opes Prime Dallara/Honda/Firestone) in their first oval race. Perera continued to demonstrate his talent ending up top rookie in 14th position and second of the transition teams behind Oriol Servia, who counts over 20 oval starts and ahead of Justin Wilson. As for Bernoldi, the Brazilian was ranked 18th overall.
Both drivers gained two positions on the grid before the race even started when AJ Foyt IV and Ed Carpenter were sent to the back of the field for failing post qualifying inspection. The Conquest drivers played it safe at the start of the race losing a few positions but they quickly settled into a good pace and regained what they had lost as the race went on.
Things got difficult for Bernoldi who struggled with an ill-handling car and he had to abandon the race after completing 149 laps. Frenchman "Fearless" Franck Perera moved back up to his 13th position on lap 60 after passing Milka Duno and Darren Manning. The 2007 Atlantic "Rookie of the Year" remained consistent and stayed out of trouble during the 2 hour race. A race that was over one hour and 10 minutes of what he was used to in Atlantics in 2007. Perera ended up 14th overall, by the time the checkered flag flew.
Conquest Racing Quoteboard
14th - Franck Perera #34 ARES/Opes Prime Dallara/ Honda/ Firestone
"It's nice to finish the race. It was very tough, very long. I think it is the longest race I did in my life. It was good because I could fight with Oriol (Servia) who is also on one of the transition teams. I'm happy I brought the car back for the guys they did such a good job and it's good for Conquest, now we can concentrate on the road course next week. I learned a lot tonight even if it was difficult out there with all the traffic. You don't really know the driving style of the other drivers and when they come in a group they are so quick. But I was always staying in the clear line to not get in their way. Now we have to work on gaining more speed."
18th - Enrique Bernoldi #36 Opes Prime / Sangari Dallara/Honda/Firestone
"It was a very difficult race, not quite how I had anticipated it. I had a lot of understeer and we just couldn't get the right balance. But it was still a learning experience being out there with all the cars. I'm happy to have kept the car out of trouble and now we can focus on St. Petersburg next week."
Eric Bachelart, Conquest Racing owner
"We came here in Homestead very humble with the goal of acquiring experience for both the team and our drivers. We managed to run competitively and stay out of trouble. Franck has done a very good job all weekend while Enrique struggled in the race. It's part of his learning curve. I am proud of what we have achieved in such a short period of time and we are looking forward to competing in a more natural environment in the streets of St Pete next week."