Jacques Villeneuve’s first victory in NASCAR

“Finally it happened. I’ve been waiting for it for so long ”. These were the first words of Jacques Villeneuve after his first victory in the NASCAR European Series contested on Saturday at the road circuit in Vallelunga, Italy.

• Read also: NASCAR Cup: Jacques Villeneuve on track in Charlotte on Tuesday

The 1997 Formula 1 world champion, entered in the Wheelen Euro NASCAR series for three years, had not reached the top step of the podium in motor racing since winning the 2012 Andros Trophy, a ice racing championship presented in France and in the Principality of Andorra.

It is also his first major victory since his success (with his teammates Nicolas Minassian and Marc Gené) in the endurance test of the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in May 2008 aboard a Peugeot.

« It’s a great relief, » said the 50-year-old pilot in an interview with the Journal de Montreal. Despite a capricious car in free practice, my team [Academy Motorsport/ Alex Caffi Motorsport] made the correct settings for the qualifying session and the race.  »

Five second penalty

After starting from second place when the green flag was waved, Villeneuve was able to surprise Alon Day (pole position holder) from the first corner and take control of the 18-lap race to never again leave.

However, the winner had started his race badly when the stewards penalized him by five seconds for having anticipated the start.

“It all happened so fast,” he said. Day eased off to my surprise and I found myself in front of him when the start was given. But I redeemed myself afterwards. When I was informed that I was penalized, I gave everything to widen the gap.  »

It was 6.3 seconds ahead of the Italian Vittorio Ghirelli. A gap that was enough to sign this much desired victory.

Involved in a collision, Day was forced to retire on the seventh lap when he was in third place.

For the first time in NASCAR

Villeneuve, limited to sporadic participations due to his role as Formula 1 Grand Prix analyst on French television, reached the third step of the podium in Croatia last month in the Wheelen Euro series.

He had never won a NASCAR race since the start of his career regardless of the division. In the Xfinity series, he placed third on three occasions (including two in Montreal in 2010 and 2012). In 2013, he was on the last step of the podium in the Pinty’s series at the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières.

In the lead: Villeneuve will have the opportunity to achieve the double at Vallelunga since he will occupy the first place on the starting grid of the second race of the weekend on Sunday. “If my car behaves the same way it did on Saturday, I think I have a very good chance of winning again,” concluded Villeneuve.

To see also …

Laisser un commentaire