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Indy500 comeback for Villeneuve?

2014-02-28 10:33

HIS BACK : Formula 1 and IndyCar champion Jacques Villeneuve will attempt a comeback at the 2014 Indianapolis 500 at the age of 42. Image: AFP

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana - Formula 1 and IndyCar champion Jacques Villeneuve will attempt a comeback at the 2014 Indianapolis 500 at the age of 42.

Race team co-owners San Schmidt and Ric Peterson said the Canadian driver, 1994 IndyCar Rookie of the year and 1995 Indy 500 winner and IndyCar season champion.

That set the stage for a successful F1 career that saw him win the 1997 F1 championship a year after he was runner-up to Britain's Damon Hill.


Villeneuve said: "I've been fortunate enough to compete in several of the world's top racing series and nothing excites me more than entering IndyCar at its current level of competitiveness.

To have the opportunity to return to IndyCar racing and the Indianapolis 500 is something I never thought possible. If you have to win one race in the whole of your career, the Indy 500 is the one."

Villeneuve, now working as an F1 commentator and driving in World Rally cross, said he began talking with Schmidt a few weeks earlierr after watching 2013's races and feeling a stir toward climbing back behind the wheel in an open-cockpit race car.

Villeneuve said: "It all went fast. The discussions happened at the right time because I'd been watching IndyCars and it looked extremely exciting, to the point where I was angry and jealous that I wasn't racing. That got me going again."

Villeneuve has raced US stock cars and events in Australia and elsewhere but gave IndyCar little thought during a bitter fight for control that led to rival IndyCar groups before a re-merger.


"It's getting back to the glory days with the races exciting and the drivers becoming more and more impressive."

Villeneuve, Brazil's Emerson Fittipaldi, and American legend Mario Andretti are the only drivers to have won the Indy 500, the F1 crown and IndyCar season titles in their career.

"I'm a racer at heart and always will be. That's what keeps me going. That's what keeps me alive," Villeneuve said. "I don't want to be for my kids just the guy that used to race, that they can see in books.

"I want them to see and live what I've already lived, to see it through my doing it."

Villeneuve won 11 F1 GP's before he moved in 2007 to US stock cars. His most recent start at the famed Indy oval was at the 2010 Brickyard 400 stock-car race.

Villeneuve will be joined for the 500 by full-time Schmidt IndyCar drivers Simon Pagenaud of France and Mikhail Aleshin of Russia.

If he qualifies for this the 98th Indy 500 on May 25 2014 the 19 years between Indy 500 starts will be a record, surpassing the 17 years of Cy Marshall and Roland Free between 1930 and 1947.

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