Villeneuve coup praised all around
V8 Supercars and the Queensland state government have praised Kelly Racing's acquisition of Jacques Villeneuve to drive the Pepsi Max Crew entry at the Sucrogen Townsville 400.
CLICK HERE for V8X's earlier article on Villeneuve.
"It's real coup for North Queensland to have an international motorsport legend the calibre of Jacques coming to racing in Townsville for three days," said V8 Supercars CEO David Malone.
Queensland Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey said attracting such a big name would be a huge boon for the event now in its fourth season on the V8 Supercars calendar.
"The Sucrogen Townsville 400 is already a highlight on Queensland's motorsport calendar," she said. "To have Jacques Villeneuve, a world champion from multiple categories race in Queensland, is a big win for the event, and a big win for the state.
"The 2011 event was a huge success for the region, with more than 150,000 people attending; delivering an economic boost of more than $18 million. With great talent like Villeneuve in 2012, the event is expected to again deliver fantastic results."
Villeneuve's current racing exploits includes outings in the NASCAR Nationwide series and Porsche Supercar events in Europe, with a gap in his schedule allowing him to race in V8 Supercars at Townsville.
"I feel for Greg Murphy having to miss a number of races in the championship as there is nothing worse for a race driver than sitting on the sidelines with an injury and not being able to accumulate points in the series," Villeneuve said.
"When this opportunity came up only one week ago, the stars all aligned and thankfully my commitments with the NASCAR Nationwide Penske Team in America and Porsche Supercar events in Europe allowed me to grab the Pepsi Max Crew seat for the Townsville race in an instance. V8 Supercars is a spectacular race series and I had a great experience on the Gold Coast back in October 2010.
"I have checked out the whole Pepsi Max Crew graffiti concept and it looks wild. I also understand if time permits that the guys are thinking about a specific livery for the Townsville race for me, which will be cool.
"Like all drivers though, I am planning to first and foremost be competitive in the car as quickly as possible. Your championship is world-class and I will be thrilled to do this Townsville race."
Both Pepsi Max and Kelly Racing said Villeneuve was a perfect fit for the entry, with the title sponsor pushing for a name driver when it become clear Murphy would miss a number of events with injury.
"Jacques is a renowned and respected driver the world over and it's with huge excitement that we welcome him into the Pepsi Max Crew," said Adam Burling of PepsiCo.
"The style and persona of Jacques is something that will bode well with our team and his fresh perspective makes us very confident heading toward the Townsville round in July."
Rick Kelly added: "It's not every day a decorated driver of Jacques calibre walks through your doors. His achievements at the highest possible levels of global motorsport are huge.
"JV's upcoming drive with us is a win for everyone... all our staff, the sport, the V8 Supercar fan base in North Queensland and, of course PepsiCo, who have had a tough year with Greg's unfortunate back injuries disrupting their marketing programs.
"His driving and technical capabilities are sound and I have no doubt he will be quickly on the pace."
Villeneuve's standalone V8 Supercars debut will take place at the Sucrogen Townsville 400 on July 6 to 8.
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