Conquest Racing will not be returning to the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2013, the team announced on Wednesday.
“We made this decision this week," said team principal Eric Bachelart, adding that the team intended to dedicate itself to American Le Mans Series sportscar racing instead.
"After considering many scenarios we decided that the time for putting together a competitive program in IndyCar was running out," he explained. "It was better to step back as opposed to creating a last minute program that didn't live up to our standards."
Conquest last ran full-time in the IndyCar series in 2011 with Sebastian Saavedra leading their campaign. Prior to that, the stable of Conquest drivers had included the likes of Justin Wilson, Alex Tagliani, Tomas Scheckter and Bertrand Baguette over the course of 16 years competing in IndyCar, IRL and Champ Car.
After IndyCar updated its technical specifications and introduced the DW12 chassis, Conquest was unable to fund a full-time entry in 2012 and moved to ALMS instead. Bachelart said that the ALMS move was the silver lining of this week's decision to bid farewell for now to IndyCar.
"The good news is that this decision allows us to focus purely on our sportscar program, which we debuted very successfully last year," Bachelart said, adding that the team had finally sold off the sole DW12 chassis that it had previously bought, laying to rest any suggestion of a quick return to IndyCar duty or a possible Indianapolis 500 entry in May.
Conquest enjoyed a strong maiden series in ALMS last year with drivers Martin Plowman and David Heinemeier Hansson, whose two wins and three pole positions kept them in strong contention for the P2 championship before finally ending the season as worthy runners up.
"Fighting for the P2 championship with no previous endurance experience was a very positive experience for us, and we proved what we can do as a team," said Bachelart. "We are currently evaluating different programs for ALMS, in the P2, PC and GTC categories, where we know that once again we can build a championship winning effort and fight for wins with the rest of the teams out there."
Bachelart, himself a former race driver and 1991 Indy Lights champion, added that he was looking forward to an exciting future in ALMS, which next year merges with the NASCAR-owned Grand-AM championship.
"We are also very excited about the unified series in 2014 as it is opening a lot of exciting possibilities for us which we will work on throughout this year," he said, adding that Conquest is also looking into expanding into the highly competitive PC and GTC categories.