Conquest Racing Team Owner Eric Bachelart signed 2000 Barber Dodge Pro Series Champion Nilton Rossoni to his team for the 2001 Dayton Indy Lights Championship, the Official Development Series of CART's FedEx Championship Series.
"It's a dream to sign with a top team in the Indy Lights series in my first year," said Rossoni. "I have a lot learn, but believe that Conquest will support me well enabling me to run up front. Also I have to thank Skip Barber and the Barber Dodge Pro Series. Without the $300,000 Career Enhancement Award, it would have been difficult to continue climbing the racing ladder. Also the skills that I learned racing in the Pro Series have been such a huge part of getting me to where I am, and allowing me to get comfortable in the Lights car right away."
Rossoni, 19, spent three years in the Barber Dodge Pro Series, finishing 6th in 1999 with two wins before stepping up to dominate the series in 2000. He recorded six wins in 12 races, earning the championship and the $305,000 Career Enhancement Award, which includes cash and an engine lease package for the Dayton Indy Lights Championship.
"We tested Rossoni a few weeks ago at Buttonwillow and we were very impressed with his performance," Bachelart said. "His record in Barber Dodge speaks for itself. He's young, he's very talented, and we think he will make a strong rookie this coming season."
"We are also very pleased to represent the Barber Dodge Pro Series. This is the second time we have signed a graduate of that series, since we ran Chris Menninga for two seasons, and for sure they do a good job of preparing drivers for Indy Lights."
Engineer Peter Jacobs will return to the team for a fourth consecutive season. Jacobs worked with Felipe Giaffone in 2000 to earn the team 5 podiums, 3 poles, one win and a fourth-place ranking in overall points.
Conquest will begin testing for the 2001 season at Firebird Raceway in Arizona on Dec. 12-14, and then will continue on the oval at Phoenix International Raceway Dec. 16-17. The team plans to run a two-car effort and will announce its second driver shortly.
Bachelart is a former Indy car driver who founded Conquest in 1997.
- George Tamayo