St. Pete: Conquest Racing preview

St. Petersburg Conquest Racing Pre-race Notes * Conquest Racing will be making their second start in St. Petersburg this weekend. Their first came in the Champ Car World Series in 2003 with driver Mario Haberfeld. The team lined up...

St. Petersburg Conquest Racing Pre-race Notes

* Conquest Racing will be making their second start in St. Petersburg this weekend. Their first came in the Champ Car World Series in 2003 with driver Mario Haberfeld. The team lined up sixth on the grid and crossed the finish line in fourth in their first race in the Champ Car World Series.

* The team is coming off their first race of the season where both drivers made their oval debuts. Perera was ranked top rookie crossing the finish line in 14th position with Bernoldi 18th.

* Conquest Racing looks forward to racing in a more natural environment for the team on the Streets of St. Petersburg. Between 2002 and 2007 the team has raced on 63 road/street courses versus 23 ovals.

* St. Petersburg will be the first IndyCar Series street course for both Conquest drivers but it won't be their first street course race. Bernoldi and Perera competed on street circuits such as Macau , Monaco and Pau . Perera also competed on street circuits in 2007 in the Atlantic Series such Long Beach, Toronto (where he won) and San Jose.

* Conquest Racing is one of five teams making the transition to the new unified IndyCar Series. Previously the team founded by 1991 Indy Lights Champion Eric Bachelart competed for five seasons in the Champ Car World Series, claiming 2 podium finishes and 55 top-tens in 73 races.

* The Indianapolis-based team is entering their second full season of competition in the IndyCar Series. Their first full season of competition was in 2002 with French driver Laurent Redon, who took "Rookie of the Year" honors that season. The team has one podium finish to its credit, a third place finish in Fontana that same year.

* The team will be making their 19th IndyCar Series start while Bernoldi and Perera will be starting their second IndyCar Series race but their first on a road course with the Dallara chassis.

St. Petersburg Franck Perera Pre-race Notes

* Will be making his first appearance on the streets of St. Petersburg .

* Having been on the road for the last couple of weeks with testing and then the first race in Homestead , Perera took some time to visit South Beach , work out and rest up between races.

* Franck Perera, the 2007 Atlantic Rookie of the year, is the only Frenchman to compete full time in the IndyCar Series since Laurent Redon ran the full season with Conquest Racing in 2002.

* Perera's outstanding performance in the 2007 Atlantic Championship made him one of the most sought after drivers for the 2008 season. The former GP2 driver finished runner-up completing every lap of 2007 on his way to three wins, eight consecutive podiums and 116 laps led. The Frenchman also finished all 12 races in the top-five.

St. Petersburg Enrique Bernoldi Pre-race Notes

* Will be making his first start in St. Petersburg

* Living in Miami for not quite a month now, Bernoldi was able to stay home in his new apartment with his wife Luisa and daughter Maria during the Homestead race. A huge tennis fan, he attended some tennis matches on Sunday at the Sony Ericsson Open. He also spent some time in the gym working on his fitness in preparation for this weekend's race.

* Enrique Bernoldi will be the only former regular Formula 1 driver in the field.

* Bernoldi drove for the Arrows Formula 1 team in 2001 and 2002 before becoming a test driver for the BAR Honda Team in 2004 and 2005. Some career highlights include a third place in the final standings of the Formula Nissan World Series, a runner-up position in the British F3 Series and a European Formula Renault Championship.

CONQUEST RACING QUOTEBOARD

#34 Franck Perera ARES/Opes Prime Dallara/Honda/Firestone

"Last week's race was fun but I can't wait to get to St. Petersburg because it will be more of what I am used to. I think we will be able to run higher than we did in Homestead and be more competitive for sure. We had a good test in Sebring that allowed us to prepare for St. Petersburg so it should be another interesting weekend. I always enjoyed racing on street courses and I look forward to discovering the St. Pete track."

#36 Enrique Bernoldi Opes Prime/Sangari Dallara/Honda/Firestone

"Rookie of the Year" Standings: 5th "I think it will be much better for me this weekend. I just want to put Homestead behind me and look forward. I have more experience on this type of track and I know that we can do well here, run closer to the front and be more competitive. We got a taste of the Dallara on the road course in Sebring and I can't wait to see how it does on the street circuit. Once again I want to bring the car home and score as many points as possible."

Eric Bachelart, owner Conquest Racing

"We will feel more 'at home' this weekend in St. Petersburg that is certain. The team did an excellent job last week but this will be a more natural environment for us to go back to street racing. Both Enrique and Franck have tons of experience on this kind of race track and we were able to get some important data at our test in Sebring that will help us in St. Pete. That being said I think we can expect to run closer to the front this weekend. It will also be special for us to return to St. Petersburg because that is where we competed in our first Champ Car race in 2003."

-credit: cr

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