Former F1 and IndyCar champion Jacques Villeneuve has indicated he would be thrilled to be offered another call-up from Kelly Racing if they wanted his services for the next V8 Supercars championship round, the Coates Hire 300 at Ipswich’s Queensland Raceway.
The French-Canadian’s comments came after we reported that the team was keen to look at retaining his services for the next two rounds at Queensland Raceway and Sydney Motorsport Park, following his solo outing for the team last weekend at Townsville.
The four-car team has been without the services of Greg Murphy in its #51 Pepsi Max Crew entry since Phillip Island in May, after the New Zealander had to undergo major back surgery stemming from a heavy crash he suffered at the season opening Clipsal 500 at Adelaide.
Villeneuve was a late call-up to the squad and, with no lead-in testing, it was not surprising that he was a little bit off the pace all weekend. After qualifying slowest for both 200-kilometre races, he retired with an engine failure in Saturday’s race, and finished a lapped 24th on Sunday, having suffered a mid-race power steering failure in his Holden Commodore.
With his only other commitment this year being his traditional appearance at the NASCAR Nationwide race at Montreal on August 18, he has confirmed that his diary is clear for the August 3-5 round at Queensland Raceway.
“If I was asked to I would definitely come back, we’ll see,” he told BigPond Sport.
Villeneuve has made no secret of his desire to land a full-time drive in the championship, and will be hoping that he will be able to convince one or more teams that he is an attractive prospect.
“I tell everyone that Australia’s a great place, so why would you say no to coming here? It’s a great place to raise a family,” the newly remarried racer said.
Despite having competed in some of the toughest championship categories around the world, Villeneuve described his first solo drive in the V8 Supercars Championship as “the hardest thing I’ve done in my racing career”.
“I had a blast, but just getting here without any preparation, that was really difficult. Those cars are a handful; they’re beasts to get used to! The level of the drivers is very high so the learning curve was very steep and I was thrown in the deep end!” he exclaimed.
“The thing that stood out to me immediately was how difficult they are to drive, and also how difficult they are to understand in regards to understanding exactly what makes them go fast and the set ups and so on.
“I wasn’t that quick on the weekend but I was told just to keep my nose clean, try to finish the races and get some laps in, and that’s what I did.
“That’s OK though, I love a challenge and all I wanted to do was get some laps and not get in anyone’s way.”