Jacques Villeneuve wins first race in 13 years – then does it again day after


It might have taken him 13 years, but Jacques Villeneuve is a race-winner again, after taking two victories in two days at the weekend

JV 1

After 13 years of waiting for a professional race win, 1997 Formula 1 champion Jacques Villeneuve managed two in two days in the EuroNASCAR Series last weekend.

The French-Canadian, whose last victory came in the 2008 1000km of Spa-Francorchamps at the wheel of a Peugeot 908, survived a 5-sec penalty to win the penultimate EuroNASCAR round at Vallelunga for the Academy/Alex Caffi Motorsport team, before throwing caution to the wind against title contenders to take first in the final too.

In the first race, the former Williams, BAR and Sauber grand prix driver moved ahead of pole-sitter Alon Day at the rolling start, thus incurring the penalty.

Day attempted to stay ahead by keeping the inside line the first corner but, in a move reminiscent of Estoril ’96 on Michael Schumacher, Villeneuve recalled his oval expertise to sweep round the outside and take the lead.

JV 2

AFter waiting 13 years for a win, Villeneuve took his next one the day after

In a nail-biting finish, the son of Gilles Villeneuve just managed to eke out the gap he needed, winning by 5.2sec. The eleven-time grand prix winner’s journeyman career has taken in Sprint Cup, Xfinity and Truck levels of NASCAR, as well as GT racing, Formula E, V8 Supercars, Brazilian Stockcars, IndyCar and World Rallycross.

On the Sunday, Villeneuve was lying in second when he sensed race leader and title contender Loris Hezemans was playing it safe, thus taking the opportunity for another outside pass, this time halfway round the circuit, bringing him another win.

In the EuroNASCAR Series, it’s been a case of close but not quite for the ’97 F1 champ over the past three seasons, with several podium finishes racked up – including a second at Rome last year – but a first victory had eluded him until now.

From the archive

“Finally, it’s been a long time coming”, an elated Villeneuve said. “We have been fighting at the front a lot and the car was good in the race. We had a hard time in practice but in qualifying the car was really amazing.

“I got a penalty at the start, I’m not sure why because the rules say ‘go’ on green, so I must have missed something in the rulebook, so I’ll go check. But a good thing I jumped the start because I didn’t have the horsepower against Alon, which was obvious until Turn 1.

“I guess having raced so much on the ovals in the States, I didn’t have to lift on the outside of Turn 1 there. I just went for it and Alon lifted.”

Hezemans managed to hang on and finish fifth, thus meaning he was crowned the youngest-ever two-time EuroNASCAR champion at 24 years of age.

The Dutchman will compete on the road courses of NASCAR’s top-tier Cup Series in the US next year.