Dumfries, Scotland (UK) — Wednesday 26 February, 2014: Albatec Racing has released Jacques Villeneuve from his contract to contest the UK round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy, after it emerged that the former F1 World Champion has been approached to contest the prestigious Indy 500, which clashes with the Lydden Hill round on Sunday 25 May.
The 1995 Indycar World Series Champion, who took victory in the prestigious race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that year, will head straight to the US following his World RX of Portugal debut appearance in early May. He will swap his flame-spitting 600bhp Peugeot 208 Supercar for a 550bhp Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara DW12, for a week of testing and qualifying ahead of what is arguably the biggest and richest motor race in the world.
While he is no stranger to Indycar, a return to the gruelling 200 lap – 500 mile race will be a far cry from the four-lap sprint races the French-Canadian will undergo on his World RX debut at Montalegre over the weekend of 3/4 May. Although Jacques has not raced a single-seater since 2006, his 164 starts in Formula One which netted 11 wins and 23 podiums, will stand him in good stead as he goes up against four former winners of the blue riband event, billed as ‘the greatest spectacle in racing’.
Albatec Racing will be announcing the top line driver who will drive the #25 Peugeot 208 at the home of British Rallycross within the next few weeks, while the five time Indycar race winner will return to World RX action in round three of the Championship in Norway in June.
Andy Scott, Team Principal, Albatec Racing:
“Naturally we’re disappointed that Jacques will miss our home event, however what driver in the world would or could turn down the opportunity to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He’s a racer through and through and returning to tackle the Indy 500 is simply too good a chance for him to miss. We knew this was a possibility as he’d already expressed an interest in doing that one event, so I’m pleased he gets the chance to go for the double win.
“It’s all credit to Jacques that he’s considered as a potential Indy 500 winner and we all wish Jacques, Sam Schmidt and the entire Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team the very best for the weekend. Jacques will return to rallycross action in the third round of World RX at Norway, hopefully as the new Indy 500 Champion, while we have been in discussion with several other star drivers to take over his car at Lydden Hill.”
Jacques Villeneuve, Albatec Racing driver #25:
“Of course I’m disappointed not to be racing at Lydden Hill, the team’s home event, particularly after such a great test at the circuit on Saturday. However I’ve always wanted to do the Indy 500 one more time and this offer is just too good to turn down.
“After the test in Kent, it really fired me up for the FIA World Rallycross Championship, and I remain committed to giving my very best to the team and the Championship, starting at the opening round in Portugal. However I’m a racer, with a passion for racing, and the Indy 500 is without question the biggest event on the motorsport calendar – not many drivers get the chance to drive on that track, and for me it’s a personal challenge, with a first and second there already, I need to finish in the top two to keep up the average!”