Jacques Villeneuve looks set to be offered the chance at future race outings in the V8 Supercars Championship.
The French-Canadian made a one-off appearance with the Kelly Racing team in place of the injured Greg Murphy at last weekend’s Sucrogen Townsville 400.
Having had no lead-up mileage in the #51 Holden Commodore before last weekend’s championship round, Villeneuve languished at the bottom of the timesheets in each of the practice and qualifying sessions.
His Saturday race lasted all of 18 laps before he succumbed to an engine failure, by which time he had already quickly climbed to the fringes of the top ten. His Sunday race was a quieter affair, finishing a lap adrift of the leaders in 24th place.
Despite what most outsiders would consider as a less than stellar performance, senior figures in Kelly Racing were very impressed with Villeneuve’s approach to his outing on the streets of Townsville.
On the back of this, the team is looking to offer Villeneuve further opportunities to race at the upcoming rounds at Ipswich and Sydney Motorsport Park while Murphy continues his recuperation from back surgery.
“There’s definitely a chance that he could do more races with us,” team owner/driver Rick Kelly is quoted as saying, while also emphasising that “consistency” in the team’s driver line-up is important to push the team forward.
“Initially, it was about us getting him over here just for Townsville, and to be honest, he did a really good job,” Kelly continued.
“You can never expect anyone outside of the category to jump in and be right on the money straight away. Every time he jumped in the car, he made a really good improvement. He was a pleasure to have in the Pepsi Max Crew in every aspect of his driving and all the jobs outside of the car.
“It would be a pleasure for him to return for more races. We wanted to get this out of the way and that if we can keep him for longer, he will only be stronger next time.”
Villeneuve flew out of Australia today to return to his upcoming racing commitments in North America, but indicated that he remained open to the possibility of further V8 Supercars outings, provided if fitted with his schedule and if he could land some pre-event testing mileage.
“I’d definitely like to come back, but I have to see,” Villeneuve said, when asked about the chance of more V8 Supercars in the future.
“We only ever agreed to come for this race and said that we’d speak after this race.
“It would have been really good to have a test beforehand. I was learning on the fly here, so of course, it would be great to comeback, but I have to look at my schedule and everything like that.”