INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (October 6, 2022) - Fast off a podium and pole-winning GT3 competition debut last month at Sebring International Raceway, Conquest Racing is set for a "home race" this weekend with the No. 34 Conquest Racing/Corsa Horizon Ferrari 488 GT3 in Saturday's Indianapolis 8 Hour presented by AWS at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Two races in one, the Indianapolis 8 Hour is the season-ending Fanatec GT World Challenge race and a round of the worldwide Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli.
Owned by former champion driver Eric Bachelart, Conquest Racing is based in Indianapolis and celebrates its 25th Anniversary in 2022. It's only fitting that the team competes at home in this weekend's Indianapolis 8 Hour as the third running of the Intercontinental GT Challenge race at IMS marks a milestone of its own. New for 2022, the 8-hour endurance race starts this Saturday at Noon, racing into the dark for the first-ever GT night race at the world-famous Brickyard.
Two weeks ago at Sebring, Conquest made a successful GT3 debut in its first career race weekend in Fanatec GT World Challenge competition. Team co-drivers Manny Franco and Alessandro Balzan combined to win a pair of poles, lead race laps and score fourth-place and second-place finishes in the weekend's pair of 90-minute races.
Balzan returns to the No. 34 this weekend while Franco selflessly steps aside to open the door for a pair of top-tier GT3 drivers to join the team in an all-out bid for a Pro-class victory in both the Fanatec GT World Challenge finale and Intercontinental GT Challenge 8-hour race.
“I made the decision to step out of the car this weekend as we are still on a learning curve with the intention to use these last two races of 2022 to prepare for next season," Franco said. "I’ll be supporting our team this weekend and I am excited to see the progress of our three drivers throughout the event.”
Balzan is joined at Indy by his Italian countryman Daniel Mancinelli and Cédric Sbirrazzuoli, who is from Monte Carlo. Experienced GT3 drivers, Mancinelli drove a TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 to the GT World Challenge victory at Long Beach in 2018 while Sbirrazzuoli co-drove an AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 with Balzan in the recently completed 2022 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe endurance championship.
"We were delighted with our GT3 debut at Sebring and confident we will be able to build on that success this weekend at Indy," said Bachelart, Conquest Racing President and CEO. "We respect and appreciate Manny's decision to sit-out this race and welcome Daniel and Cedric to the team to co-drive with Alessandro. That trio in a Ferrari 488 GT3 at Indianapolis will be very competitive and, after what we saw at Sebring, it won't be long before Manny is on-track with his teammates competing at the same level."
Balzan competed in the inaugural Indy 8 Hour in 2020 in the Pro-Am division in a Squadra Corse Ferrari 488 GT3, but his co-drivers compete in an Intercontinental GT Challenge race at Indy for the first time on Saturday.
Indianapolis 8 Hour practice got underway Wednesday with a pair of practice sessions on the 14-turn, 2.44-mile IMS Grand Prix circuit. Practice continues Thursday, including a two-hour session from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. EDT that will be the only chance competitors have for nighttime running before Saturday's race.
A 90-minute pre-qualifying session Friday sets the stage for official qualifying later that day, which culminates with a 15-minute pole shootout for the 10 fastest cars from the earlier qualifying sessions.
Saturday's only on-track GT3 activity is the Indianapolis 8 Hour that runs from 12 p.m. until 8 p.m. EDT. Livestreaming is available throughout the race, as well as qualifying and the Pole Shootout, on YouTube at GT World and Twitch at SROMotorsports.