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03.04.2008

Jacques Villeneuve: A world champion on the grid!

The arrival of Jacques Villeneuve in Speedcar Series is the red-letter event of the Bahrain weekend round of the championship. The 1997 F1 world champion has confirmed his participation in the last two meetings of the season. JV is among the most eclectic drivers in motor racing with a victory in the Indy 500 to his name.

The 37-year-old Canadian has set himself a double challenge: victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours with Peugeot and a breakthrough in NASCAR. With Speedcar Series he is adding another string to his bow. "Speedcar Series looks like a great event and I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun. It’s a series still in its infancy and will build up, and I think it’s a great idea.

On a personal level, Speedcar will give me more road racing experience with this kind of vehicle which will be useful in future NASCAR road course events. It’s also a great excuse to meet race fans!"

At the end of the 80s Johnny Herbert was THE great British hope. He dominated F3000, and already had an F1 contract with Benetton in his pocket when he shattered his ankles in a huge accident on the Brands Hatch circuit.

Had this not happened his results would certainly have been much better. But that’s how it goes. In 161 grand prix Johnny scored three victories; he also won the le Mans 24 Hours in 1991 and his love of driving has never left him.

At present he is trailing Jean Alesi and Uwe Alzen in the Speedcar Series overall classification, and his driving aim is to win in Bahrain. Rather than an outsider Johnny wants to become the Series’ yardstick.

Are you pleased with your first podium finish in Sepang?

"No, because I lost! (laughs). In the early laps I was as quick as Jean Alesi. Then I was a bit better under braking as the car was perfectly balanced. I managed to take the lead the first time I went for it. I concentrated on driving very cleanly and I was able to open up a small gap. Jean came back at me in the last three laps and he retook the lead.

We had a very clean battle. I tried to get back in front in the final corner but I grazed his car. I could have forced my way past but I didn’t want to win like that. If my overtaking manoeuvre had come off it would have needed a photo to decide the winner on the finishing line!"

Speedcar Series will be held in the context of an F1 grand prix for the second time. Are you still interested in the top formula?

"Yes, like everybody. For a while it wasn’t quite so interesting as Ferrari and Michael Schumacher dominated. It’s more open now. We had an incredibly exciting championship in 2007 with Lewis, Kimi and Fernando all battling for the title.

A lot of people thought that Lewis would win, but finally it went to Kimi. It’s good because he deserved it. And now there’s not only McLaren and Ferrari, BMW is becoming a serious threat and Williams is still as competitive as ever. I really like seeing new guys like Sebastian Vettel coming in and making a big splash!"

Would you like to drive one of today’s F1 cars?

"Yeah. I’d like to drive a 2008 F1. It’s good that driver aids have been banned. F1 will always be a technologically-driven sport but the electronic side was becoming too dominant. Thanks to traction control human error had been almost completely eliminated. The new rules place the emphasis on driving skills and you can’t say it’s a bad thing."

 

Speedcar Series -Anila Ratnam- J. Roussel, D. Waldron





Author: maggy (admin2)
Last modified: Thursday, 03.04.2008 - 12:30
More reports from this category all copyright automobilsport.com.

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