After running him in testing last week at Sebring, Conquest Racing confirmed Monday that it has signed Sebastian Saavedra to drive its No. 34 Dallara-Honda in this year's IZOD IndyCar Series.
The Colombian made his first start with Eric Bachelart's Indianapolis-based squad in the 2010 season finale at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, and had been in talks about a return ever since, but it took until the opening day of IndyCar's Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park for driver and team to confirm their plans.
“I'm excited to be entering my first full season of IndyCar competition," said Saavedra. "I've been working a long time toward this and for it to finally happen is fantastic. I'm also very happy to be back with Conquest Racing. We had a good weekend together last year in Homestead and I really enjoyed working with everyone on the team. I can't wait for the season to start. I know it won't always be easy but I am up for the challenge.”
In addition to his race with Conquest Racing in 2010, the Bogota native also took part in his first Indianapolis 500 and became the first driver born in the 1990s to compete at Indy. Additionally, last season Saavedra made 11 starts in Indy Lights, scoring five top-five finishes, including one win from pole at Iowa Speedway.
“We're delighted to have Sebastian back with us and this time for the complete season,” said Bachelart. “It was a pleasure working with him last year in the season finale and again last week at our test in Sebring. Sebastian has done a great job both times that he has been in our car and I think we can expect some good things from him this season. We're also happy to be keeping up our tradition of giving young up and coming drivers the chance to take their career to the next level.”
Conquest normally runs a two-car team and has tested Pippa Mann and Jean-Karl Vernay over the winter, as well as working to find sponsorship to run Paul Tracy. However, Tracy is now believed to be focusing his efforts elsewhere in his bid to revive his IndyCar career.
Team Penske's Will Power set the pace in the opening IndyCar practice session on the Barber road course outside Birmingham, ahead of rookie James Hinchcliffe (Newman/Haas), Penske's Helio Castroneves, Andretti Autosport's Mike Conway and Penske's Ryan Briscoe. Another session is now under way.