Former Formula 1 champion Jacques Villeneuve has announced his plans to contest in all rounds of the new FIA World RX signing up to compete in an Albatec Racing-prepared Peugeot 208.
In less than 18 months Albatec have developed their fearsome Peugeot 208’s to be a force to be reckoned with. They also have had more than their fair share of big name drivers test with them in that time. WRC star Kris Meeke at Lohéac in France last year as well as Mika Salo in a private session in Finland. The team notched up numerous heat wins across Britain and Europe, and secured a dominant overall Supercar victory in its last race of the year, the final round of the British Rallycross Championship at Croft.
But the fact that Villeneuve has committed to a full season rather than a guest drive is testament to the high expectation and growing reputation that the racing world are placing on the inaugural season of the FIA World RX.
Martin Anayi, Managing Director of FIA World RX said “As a former F1 World Champion, Indianapolis 500 winner and IndyCar Champion, Jacques is a true motorsport legend, and his on-track achievements and off-track personality have earned him cult status all around the world. We have no doubt that he will thoroughly enjoy his new rallycross challenge, and that fans all around the globe will revel in watching his spectacular style behind the wheel of one of our flame-spitting, 600bhp Supercars.”
The son of French-Canadian motor racing idol Gilles Villeneuve, Jacques shot into the spotlight by winning the 1995 IndyCar World Series and iconic Indianapolis 500, prior to crossing the Atlantic to join the grand prix grid. Two years later, he was crowned F1 World Champion, tallying 11 race victories over the course of a glittering top flight career. He remains the only active racing driver to have lifted all three prestigious trophies.
“I am really looking forward to entering the rallycross arena with Albatec Racing,” said Villeneuve. “With my previous ice-racing experience, I’m excited about driving sideways in a 600bhp, four-wheel-drive Peugeot 208 over the combination of loose and tarmac surfaces, not to mention the jumps. With the added incentive of it being an FIA World Championship, the opportunity was really too good to miss.
“We had a very successful test in France. I was very impressed with the quality of the team, particularly on the engineering side – it reminded me of my time in F1. The car is just so responsive, the power is amazing and with 600bhp to play with, who wouldn’t be excited? I was pleasantly surprised by how reactive the car is to any changes, and I’m very much looking forward to getting into the events.”
“I am delighted to welcome Jacques to the Albatec Racing team,” said Scott. “He brings with him a wealth of experience and an outstanding pedigree across all disciplines. He is renowned for his technical excellence and ability to drive any car to its limit, and I was very impressed with how quickly he got to grips with the car in France. I am very eager to see how he settles into the 600bhp Peugeot 208 during his debut year in rallycross.“Rallycross itself is moving into a very exciting phase, and the new FIA World Rallycross Championship offers a fantastic commercial opportunity for the team.”