Two former Grand Prix veterans have both announced they will make full-time returns to racing.
Former F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve will race in the new FIA World Rallycross Championship, while former 24 of Le Mans winner Stefan Johansson is making a comeback to the World Endurance Championship.
Villeneuve, the 1997 F1 World Champion and former IndyCar Series champion and Indy 500 winner, will drive a Albatec Racing-prepared Peugeot 208 in the inaugural season of the championship being FIA-sanctioned.
“The news that Jacques Villeneuve is joining the FIA World Rallycross Championship for its inaugural season is a tremendous coup,” series boss Martin Anayi said.
“It is massively exciting for everybody involved in the Championship and for all of our fans. It will be great to see World Champions from different disciplines battling it out in FIA World RX. As a former F1 World Champion, Indianapolis 500 winner and IndyCar Champion, Jacques is a true motorsport legend, and his on-track achievements and off-track personality have earned him cult status all around the world.”
While the mix of off-road and tarmac racing is rather new to Villeneuve, the French-Canadian has had some past experience in ice racing, which should be of some advantage.
Villeneuve’s appointment will help the championship’s global reach, with the series’ sole North American round taking place at the Trois-Rivières circuit in his home province of Quebec.
The twelve-round championship kicks off in May and will feature events across Europe and the Americas – our favourite is the Norwegian venue called ‘Hell’! – and features a wealth of manufacturers, including Peugeot, Saab, Audi, Citroën, Škoda and Volkswagen. Other high-profile drivers announced to-date include former WRC champion Petter Solberg and former FIA GT and World Touring Car Championship racer René Münnich.
Meanwhile, former Grand Prix racer Stefan Johansson has announced his full-time return to racing, announcing he will compete in this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship at the age of 57.
The Swede – who achieved podium finishes with Ferrari and McLaren in the mid-1980s – has been announced in the two-car line-up being fielded by the Millennium Racing LMP2 squad, which also fields Mike Conway and Shinji Nakano on its roster.
“I’ve been dabbling for the past few years, but I suddenly realised that I haven’t done a proper programme since 2007,” Johansson said.
“I’m really excited about this and I can’t wait to get back in the groove.
“If you had told me when I was young that I would still be racing at 57, I wouldn’t have believed you, but as you become older you realise what is important to you.
“Racing is a way of life that I enjoy.”
After hanging up his helmet, Johansson has spent his more recent years expanding his Växjö luxury watch-making company. He recently provided RichardsF1.com with an excellent exclusive interview, which you can ready by clicking here.
Images via LAT and Rallye Magazin