Friday, November 10, 2023

Another ex-IndyCar Team races on

As suppose I’m showing my age, since I remember Conquest Racing’s exploits…


Yeah, going down another Wabbit’ Hole here, especially since once again this is dated news. But like others say upon Ye Blogosphere’. If Y’all are coming to No Fenders for Breaking News, you’re coming to the wrong place!



Tend to forget or overlook Sports Car racing news on a daily, or sometimes weekly basis. But eventually get around to it and learning something new. Like the fact that some Old racing teams have a hard time fading away…


As the story that Peaked my interest. Uhm, where’s ‘Ol Queen Danicker’ when Yuhs need Her, Eh? Oh Never Mind! Was about Eric Bachelart’s latest venture.


For which if you’re a Diehard IndyCar Aficionado like Mwah, then you’ll know or remember that Messer Bachelart raced in the CART/PPG IndyCar World Seriesfor Payton/Coyne Racing between 1992-95 after a successful Indy Lights career. Since I’d forgotten that Bachelart was the inaugural Indy Lights Champion in 1991.


For ’96 Bachelart switched to Sports Car racing, contesting that year’s 24 Heurs du Mans aboard a Ferrari 333 SP. Being part of then my Home team Andy Evans Scandia Racing’s two car effort. Driving the #17 Racing for Belgium TeamScandia entry with co-drivers Marc Goossens and Eric van de Poele. Which is another No Fenders story I’m sitting on for another rainy day…


Next, Eric set about becoming a team owner, establishing Conquest Racing and competing in Indy Lights initially in 1997. Running a single car entry for the totally unknown Christophe Tinseau…


For 2002, Conquest Racing joined the Indy Racing League, (IRL) with Laurent Redon behind the wheel of it’s Dallara-Infiniti racecar. Before switching to the rival, but soon to be bankrupt (2003) CART IndyCar series. Basically running a two car effort with Mario Haberfeld in it’s team car. And future Formula 1 driver tiago Monteiro in the satellite Fittipaldi IndyCar entry.


Yet when I think of Conquest Racing, I immediately think of the late Justin Big Unit’ Wilson and Bertrand Baggette. Whilst forgetting that Jan Van Hagar’ Heylen also drove for the plucky IndyCar tea.


As Karmically, just after beginning scribbling this, I discovered that Messer Heylen, Madison Snow and Trent Hindman has finished fourth overall aboard the NO. 45 Wright Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R at this year’s Indianapolis Intercontinental GT Challenge  8hr race. Winning the FGTWCA Pro Class.


As Conquest’s lengthy drivers roll also includes the likes of Nelson Philippe, Andrew Ranger, Charles Zwolsman, Jr, Matt Haliday, Jaime Camara, Enrique Bernoldi, Alex Tagliani, Mario Romancini, Francesco Dracone, Sebastian Saavedra, Joao Oliveira, Dillon Battistini and Ana Beatriz.


Conquest Racing was the first Champ Car team to join the reunified IndyCar series for 2008 as a two car entity. Before slimming down to a single car in 2011, and going out with a whimper in 2012, contesting only the two Month of May races with it’s lone female driver.


As Conquest Racing had left IndyCar to campaign a Morgan/Nissan LMP2 entry in that year’s American Le Mans Series. (ALMS)


For 2017, the team focused upon contesting the Ferrari Challenge, winning titles with various Gentlemen drivers.


In 2018 Bachelart co-founded Qwest Racing to compete in IMSA’s Continental Tires Sports Car Challenge. And then in 2019 raced in the IMSA Prototype Challenge.


Beginning in 2021, Conquest has been campaigning Yank’ Manny Franco behind the wheel of it’s Ferrari 488 GTE Evo in the Ferrari Challenge series. With Franco running stints in GT3 and GT4; currently contesting this year’s Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli and GT Challenge Americas Championships.


As Manny and Allesandro Balzan, a Two-times IMSA GT Daytona (GTD) Champion won two races at this year’s Road America GT  Challenge in the Pro category. Scoring the Ferrari

296’s first major victories in America.


For 2024, Conquest Racing with Ferrari will run a full season campaign with it’s Ferrari 296 GT3. Being la Scuderia’s first full season entry in IMSA Competizione since 2018, and Conquest’s first full season Sports Car campaign since it’s 2012 ALMS P2 entry.


Naturally, Manny Franco will spearhead the driving effort, with His co-drivers and other pertinent details to be divulged at a later date…


As Bachelart and Conquest Racing will join the likes of former IndyCar team owners Top Jimmy’ (Vasser) and James Sully’ Sullivan’s Lexus effort in the GTD ranks. Where I’m guessing the Competizione will be tough next year. With their lone Ferrari 296 GT3 facing the likes of the Championship winning BMW M4, Lexus RC F GT3, Corvett Z06 GT3, Aston Martin Vantage GT3, McLaren 720S GT3 and Acura NSX GT3. While surely Ford will also have somebody campaigning it’s brand new Mustang GT3, Righto?


Yeah, naturally after I finished my story. Ford announced that it’s two car GTD Pro entry will be run by Multimatic with four Bad Arse Sports Car Aces. With Joey Hand and Dirk Muller in one Mustang, and Harry Tincknell and Mike Rocky’ Rockenfeller in the other. As good luck Slowin’ those Mustangs Down Eric!