Thirty years after taking part for the first time, Jacques Villeneuve will return to the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières this weekend, a race which, like his father Gilles, served as a springboard for him to reach the highest peaks in motor racing.
Arrived the day before from Europe, the 1997 Formula 1 world champion familiarized himself yesterday morning with the car he will drive in the NASCAR Pinty's series, during private tests organized at the ICAR circuit in Mirabel.
Louis-Philippe Dumoulin, Louis-Philippe Montour, Jean-François Dumoulin, Jean-Philippe Bergeron and Jacques Villeneuve took part in a private test session yesterday at the ICAR circuit in Mirabel.
Villeneuve completed around twenty laps aboard the racing car prepared by the renowned Dumoulin Compétition team. Without really pushing the note. This is called “an implementation”. to determine the correct driving position, including the ideal location of the pedals and the comfort of the seat.
“It was important to do these few laps to see how the car behaves, he explained to the few journalists present. The first impression is favourable.
His faithful partner Billy Burns, the team leader who enabled him to win two victories last year in the Euro NASCAR series, will watch by his side this weekend.
No to a role of figuration
As for his expectations for the main event of the GP3R on Sunday, he prefers to say that 'after the first tests on Saturday.
“In my three past participations in Trois-Rivières in the Pinty’s series, he replies, I have always been competitive and I don’t see how that would change this year. Especially since the Dumoulin team has a good reputation.
“We will make the necessary adjustments on Saturday to improve our chances of having a good pace for the race. »
To all the spectators who will be on site in Mauricie, Villeneuve's message could not be clearer.
He did not cross the Atlantic [he lives in Italy] to play a role in Mauricie.
He is a Villeneuve, like his father Gilles and his uncle Jacques. He will give everything to impress the gallery.
“The goal, he says, is to drive forward. If I come here to compete in a race, it is to win. Anyway, I'm not fighting for the championship and collecting a few points in the standings has no meaning for me. »
Only good words for the GP3R
It was on the initiative of the promoter and president of Festidrag Développement, Martin d'Anjou, that Villeneuve won a drive for the GP3R.
Jacques Villeneuve will be taking part in the NASCAR Pinty's GP3R series for the fourth time.
“We met at Daytona last February, and he offered me this offer that I couldn't refuse,” Villeneuve said. I always find an excuse to come back.
“In Trois-Rivières, it’s magical. I love the atmosphere and it's an urban circuit that I like a lot.
“Then, the GP3R was a very important race for the family, he underlines. It was thanks to this race that Gilles [his father] was able to enter Formula 1, on the recommendation of James Hunt. Me, I participated for the first time in Formula Atlantic [in 1992] and my podium opened the doors to me to the IndyCar series and, subsequently, to F1. »
Jacques Villeneuve, Martin d’Anjou and Jean-Philippe Bergeron are feverish a few days from the GP3R.
Four other drivers entered in the GP3R also drove at Mirabel yesterday morning. Among them, Jean-Philippe Bergeron said he was not only flattered to rub shoulders with an F1 world champion, but also to face him in the NASCAR Pinty's.
“It is an immense privilege to drive with him, says the driver from Saint-Donat, and it would be a dream to be able to get ahead of him. Me, I just wish a good result in my first participation in the Pinty's series in Trois-Rivières. »
Bergeron currently sits second in the rookie standings in Pinty's Canadian series behind the point guard, Ontarian Brandon Watson.
Villeneuve surprised by Alonso's arrival at Aston Martin
Fernando Alonso, newcomer to Aston Martin
Most observers did not see the hiring of Fernando Alonso by the Aston Martin team for the next Formula 1 season coming.
Jacques Villeneuve, an analyst of the Grands Prix on French television, says part of this group.
“A big surprise, replied the 51-year-old pilot to the question of the representative of the Journal. This announcement came out of nowhere.
“Clearly this team [led by Quebec billionaire Lawrence Stroll] showed him his things that drew him to the new car.
“It is certainly not the results of this year that motivated his decision, he added. And, undeniably, there are things that were wrong with Alpine for him to turn his back on this team.
“It is not a bad choice, to claim Villeneuve. Unlike Sebastian Vettel, he still wants to fight and he won't agree to roll back. »
Among the impressive total of 37 entered in the Chevrolet Urban Challenge as part of the GP3R, this race bringing together cars accustomed to having fun on clay and which will take place early Saturday evening in Trois-Rivières, are four drivers also registered for the main event of the weekend, the NASCAR Pinty's Series.
And they are all Quebecers: Alexandre Tagliani, Marc-Antoine Camirand, Jean-Philippe Bergeron and Dexter Stacey.
No steering wheel for Lessard
A fifth could have been part of the group, but Raphaël Lessard could not find the necessary funds to reconnect with the Pinty's series at the GP3R.
“I will concentrate on the Urban Challenge, he said. he said in an interview with Journal. I just hope to avoid mechanical problems and that there will be fewer yellow flags, as there were last year. »
The gifted driver from Saint-Joseph-de-Beauce is limited to appearances on the oval tracks in the Pinty's series this year.
« I want to drive full time in 2023 , he said. If I come back next year, it will be to compete in all the races.
Lessard is gearing up for his next Pinty's Series event at the track in Ohsweken, Ontario on August 16th in his first foray onto clay .
♦ Veteran Ron Fellows, brilliant in qualifying at the GP3R last year, will also be among the participants in this second Urban Challenge. His car will be painted yellow, in the colors of the Corvette C5 which he drove to three victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.