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Formula Nippon Champ de Oliveira to Race at Motegi

Joao Paulo de Oliveira will drive for Conquest Racing at the Twin Ring Motegi road course this weekend. Photo by LAT PhotographicExperience on the Twin Ring Motegi road course could play into Joao Paulo de Oliveira's hands in the Indy Japan. At least the first-time IZOD IndyCar Series competitor hopes it will be a factor this weekend.

De Oliveira, the 2010 Formula Nippon champion, will compete in the No. 34 Ceremony Conquest Racing car in lieu of rookie driver Sebastian Saavedra. The 21-year-old Colombian, who advanced 11 positions to finish 13th in the Baltimore Grand Prix on Sept. 4 and has a best finish of 11th in 16 races over two seasons, said he's "working very hard on finding the right funding to at least do Vegas."

De Oliveira, who is third in the Formula Nippon championship standings, won the fourth and most recent round at Twin Ring Motegi on July 8.

"Motegi is a very smooth and technical track," says de Oliveira, 30, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil. "It's quite demanding on the brakes as well. It's mostly slow corners followed by long straights, so you need to make sure you get the most out of braking without compromising corner exits."

De Oliveira has been competing in Formula Nippon - a series that utilizes Swift Engineering chassis and Bridgestone tires powered by 3,400 cc V8 Honda and Toyota engines that deliver about 600 horsepower -- since 2007, and has competed simultaneously in Super GT 500 Japan since 2006.

He'll have three practice sessions on the 2.983-mile course to get a handle on the heavier Dallara chassis before the three rounds of PEAK Performance Pole qualifying.

"I won't change my approach. I need to learn the limits of the car and then know how to get the most of it by qualifying," said de Oliveira, who was named the "Sports Player of the Year" in 2010 by the Japan Pro Sport Association. "It's not an easy task, but I'm confident we can be up to speed and have a strong weekend."

"I have always been in contact with people in the U.S., but only now something real came up," he said. "The opportunity was there and I took it. In motorsports, you must be ready whenever something shows up and I feel like this came up in the right moment."

Looking toward 2012 and beyond, de Oliveira said he'll seek additional opportunities in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

"Right now, I'm focusing only on this race and trying to deliver a good result to the team," he said. "I'll take one step at a time."

Entrant sponsor Ceremony, established in 1964, is a Japanese wedding and funeral service company headquartered in Saitama.

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