Jacques Villeneuve will race for a NASCAR Whelen Euro Series championship in 2021. On Thursday, Academy Motorsport and Alex Caffi Motorsport announced they will field the #5 for Villeneuve in the upcoming EuroNASCAR PRO season as part of an alliance. The effort will also be supported from the technical side by Race Art Technology. The #5 is a EuroNASCAR FJ 2020, a rebranded Chevrolet SS that began use that year.
In 2019, Villeneuve finished tenth in the EuroNASCAR PRO (then Elite 1 Division) standings. Driving for Cup Series team Go Fas Racing, he scored three podiums (all third-place finishes) with two poles. Although he joined FEED Racing for the 2020 season, the reshuffled schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in him only running the first four races before Formula One television obligations forced him out of the car. In the four events, he recorded a runner-up finish in the second round at Vallelunga.
“I am super excited to enter this season with a brand new team and the great enthusiasm everyone is showing,” Villeneuve stated. “Federico and Alex bring the perfect mix of positive attitude, experience and knowledge we need to hit the ground running with this new project. I’m confident we have what it takes to go for the win in every race of the 2021 NWES season.”
The 1997 F1 World Champion and 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner has competed in a multitude of racing series that includes all three NASCAR national series in the United States. While his Cup and Truck Series starts failed to bear much fruit, he has six top tens in nine career now-Xfinity Series races, along with two top fives in four now-Pinty’s Series runs in his native Canada.
Caffi also has F1 experience, racing in the world-class discipline from 1986 to 1991 (five years before Villeneuve’s début). The Italian opened his Euro Series team in 2016, and has raced for his own outfit on eight occasions between that year and 2019 with three top tens and a best finish of fifth (Adria in 2016). In 2020, Alex Caffi Motorsport, in collaboration with Race Art Tech, fielded the #1 EuroNASCAR PRO car for Stefano Attianese, Niko Pulić, and Thomas Ferrando and the #1 in EuroNASCAR 2 for Vladimiros Tziortzis. Of the PRO triumvirate, Ferrando scored the team’s best race finish with two sixths, while Tziortzis finished fourth in his division’s championship.
“It’s fantastic to have a Formula One World Champion with us,” commented Caffi. “As I said in previous occasions, this partnership with Federico Monti and Academy Motorsport is really taking our project to the next level. Thanks to this joint-venture, we will finally challenge for the EuroNASCAR PRO title with Jacques, but we can also have our say in all NWES championships, from the EuroNASCAR 2 with Vladimiros to the Club Challenge with Federico himself. I can’t wait to get started, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series reached a very high level of competitiveness in the last few years and it’s fantastic to take this further step forward.”
Academy Motorsport owner Federico Monti began racing in the EuroNASCAR Club Challenge in 2020, winning in his début at Circuit Zolder and finishing second in the standings.
“I was a great fan of Jacques’ father Gilles. When he passed, I was ten years old and I wrote a letter to Jacques’ mother telling her I was dreaming of a Villeneuve being World Champion one day,” Monti said. “Jacques not only became World Champion but he also became a very special and unique driver to me, because of the way he drove and his attitude outside the car. He’s the only non-Ferrari driver I ever rooted for and giving him the opportunity to chase a NASCAR title is just incredible. I really think that together with Alex Caffi and with the support of Race Art Technology, we can do something special and I want to thank everyone involved. We are putting all our efforts into this new adventure.”
The 2021 Whelen Euro Series season will begin on 15–16 May at Circuit Ricardo Tormo. Villeneuve finished eleventh and twenty-fifth in his EuroNASCAR PRO début at the Spanish track in 2019.