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Dillon Battistini lines up at Kentucky

Conquest Racing has confirmed that it is putting British driver Dillon Battistini onto the grid for his IndyCar series début in this weekend's race at Kentucky.
British driver Dillon Battistini has finally been handed his IZOD IndyCar Series début, three years after he made waves in the Firestone Indy Lights series in 2008 with four wins in his rookie season.

It's been a long and frustrating wait for the 33-year-old former Asian Formula 3 champion, and he's been without a regular drive since that 2008 high point. Small wonder that he's thrilled that the waiting had finally paid off.

"Since I stopped racing Indy Lights regularly I've managed to put together the odd one-off race in a Lights car. But I've done my best to stay in close contact with all the IndyCar teams this whole time and just been working at raising a budget," he said, stressing that as hard and long a slog as it's been, he never considered giving up. "I've come so far and now that I'm close I have to follow through. I can't turn back now, and it means a lot to me obviously or I wouldn't have been out there to keep going over the last three years."

Making his début on the 1.5 mile Kentucky Speedway is ideal for Battistini, as it was the scene of the last of his four Indy Lights victories in that memorable season which also included wins at Homestead-Miami, Indianapolis and Iowa.

"I've had a lot of good experiences at Kentucky, I won my fourth race there in the Firestone Indy Lights series and I also had a chance to test an IndyCar there [with Panther Racing] a couple of years ago and was right on the pace," he said last week. "So I'm definitely looking forward to applying that knowledge which will make the learning curve a lot easier."

Despite his oval experience in Indy Lights, Battistini still needed to pass his IndyCar rookie oval tests before he was allowed to be considered for an actual race seat. He was scheduled to do that last Friday when he joined a dozen IndyCar Series drivers at Kentucky for an eight hour test session, but the weather threatened his best laid plans and at one point it was doubtful whether there would be any running at all. Fortunately the conditions improved, the track dried - and Battistini got to run the requisite test laps and passed without problems.

Even so, confirmation that Battistini will take the #34 car usually helmed by Sebastian Saavedra out this weekend didn't come until a week later. And the race seat comes with one firm, solid piece of advice from Conquest Racing team owner Eric Bachelart: "Don't try to impress in one shot."

“It's sound advice," agreed Battistini. "But at the same time I don't know how many opportunities I'll get to impress in an IndyCar because I'm not the sort of driver that can run off and get my family to pay to do another race if this goes badly."

But having seen the Englishman on the oval last week, Bachelart is confident in Battistini's capabilities to get up to speed quickly - despite the less-than-ideal timing of the opportunity.




Related Pictures

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Dillon Battistini in Firestone Indy Lights competition. [Picture Credit: IndyCar Media]
Dillon Battistini in Firestone Indy Lights competition. [Picture Credit: IndyCar Media]
Dillon Battistini wins at Kentucky in the 2008 Firestone Indy Lights competition. [Picture Credit: IndyCar Media]
Scott Dixon sprays the champagne in Victory Circle following his win in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon is congratulated by Dario Franchitti after winning the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon with a victory kiss from his wife, Emma, following clinching the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates his victory in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon wins the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship, his fourth series championship of his career. (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, August 30, 2015, winning the final Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Driver`s Championship at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Chevrolet also wins its fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Ernie Masche/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon (left), driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 30, 2015, after winning the final Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Driver`s Championship at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Joining him on the podium is Charlie Kimball, driver of the #83 Novolog Flexpen Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 who finished third. Chevrolet won its fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag Sunday, August 30, 2015, winning the final Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Driver`s Championship at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Chevrolet also wins its fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Perry Nelson/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, August 30, 2015, winning the final Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Driver`s Championship at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Chevrolet also wins its fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon - 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series champion - Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates after winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and clinching the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates after winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and clinching the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates after winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and clinching the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates with team mates after winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and clinching the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates with Chip Ganassi after winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and clinching the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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