Former IRL team Conquest Racing and Brazilian Mario Haberfeld are set to join the 2003 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford according to reports on our sister site Crash Brazil.

Former British Formula Three champion Haberfeld is poised to officially confirm that he has signed for Eric Bachelart's team, although nothing has been forthcoming from either camp just yet.

Although there has been no official word from CART or series CEO Chris Pook, sources in Brazil say that the 26-year old Haberfeld has signed for Conquest and that Bachelart has received a pair of Reynard chassis for their maiden CART campaign.

Conquest was one of the team's targeted by Pook before the end of 2002 as a possible entry for 2003 although Bachelart stated that he was happy in the Indy Racing League, where Conquest driver Laurent Redon scooped the Rookie of the Year award. However the increase in budgets for the IRL this year, as predicted, has priced many of the mid-grid single car IRL teams out of the market and with 2002 sponsors Mi-Jack unable to foot the bills, a move back to CART may well have been Bachelart's only option.

Haberfeld, who won the British F3 title in 1998 following some epic battles with fellow Brazilian's Luciano Burti and Enrique Bernoldi, spent four largely unsuccessful years in the FIA Formula 3000 Championship that yielded but two podium finishes. Despite driving for crack F3000 operations West Competition (McLaren Junior), Fortec, Super Nova and Astromega, Haberfeld couldn't get to grips with the one-spec series and arrives in CART aiming to prove his doubters wrong.

Despite finishing a best ever seventh overall in the 2002 F3000 standings Haberfeld made no bones about the fact that he didn't wish to return for a fifth season in the series and he made his Champcar testing debut towards the end of last season with Derrick Walker.

When Walker confirmed that he intended to run a second car in the 2003 BPTCCWSPBF alongside Mexican Roberto Gonzales Haberfeld became the immediate favourite although it would now appear that Bachelart, a former F3000 exponent himself, got to the punch first.

No sponsorship deals have yet been mentioned in connection with the team, who ran in the Dayton Indy Lights Series for several years before switching to the IRL with Redon late in 2001, but it is expected that the ride has been subsidised by CART in their attempts to ensure at least an 18-car grid next year.



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