Conquest Racing, in its fourth year of IZOD IndyCar Series competition, officially announced today that they will add a second car for 15 races in this year's season, starting with the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 11. The driver will be Belgian Bertrand Baguette, the 2009 Formula Renault 3.5 champion, who tested for two Formula 1 teams this offseason, and the car will likely carry No. 36.
More significantly, the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium, that country's motorsports governing body, will back the team, creating a true Belgian national team in the IndyCar Series. Team owner Eric Bachelart, a former open-wheel racer himself, calls Belgium home.
Bachelart has pushed for a Belgian driver in his cars before - he sent countryman Jan Heylen to the series' winter meetings with the intent of fielding him in a car this season, but that deal did not come to fruition. The team was briefly rumored to be a two car, all-Brazilian pay-driver team this season, and to have signed Tomas Scheckter, but neither of those deals worked out, either. Brazilian Mario Romancini drove for the team in Sao Paulo and will campaign the team's No. 34 car for the full season.
Originally, the rumors suggested that Baguette would drive a second car for the team in Indianapolis only, similar to how the team fielded a one-off car for Bruno Junqueira last year.
Baguette comes to IndyCar off of a majestic Formula Renault season in which he won the championship by an incredible 57 points. He didn't win a race until the sixth round of the series, sweeping the doubleheader, but won three more races over the next three rounds to secure victory. Baguette only failed to finish one race all season, and that was the only event in which he did not score points. His worst finish otherwise was eighth place, enough to score points in the series, which follows a similar points system to the former Formula 1 structure.
Baguette will attend this weekend's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in order to familiarize himself with the team and the cars, but will likely not take part in any events behind the wheel.