Kelly Racing has finally announced that Jacques Villeneuve will return to the team’s Pepsi Max Crew Commodore for the upcoming Ipswich and Sydney Motorsport Park V8 Supercars events.
Villeneuve made his first appearance in a single-driver V8 Supercars Championship race at the Sucrogen Townsville 400 earlier this month, substituting for the injured Greg Murphy.
Villenueve’s participation in further races was all but confirmed last week when the team circulated a poster promoting the chance to win a ride with the former Formula 1 World Champion around Sydney Motorsport Park in August.
Villeneuve says he hopes to improve on his modest Townsville showing, where the Pepsi Holden proved slowest in each of the practice and qualifying sessions before recording a DNF and a 24th in the two races.
“I am thankful to Pepsi Max Crew for another chance to jump in the car and with more seat time should make further inroads on the field,” said Villeneuve of his return.
“These are difficult cars to drive and there is terrific talent in this category so was realistic about my chances in Townsville not even testing the car.
“On reflection was pleased with the progress we made as a team through that weekend and comfortable with the knowledge that we can move forward in Ipswich and Sydney.”
The Pepsi Holden will be dressed in its fourth different livery of the season for the Coates Hire Ipswich 300, which is set to take place on August 3-5.
It is also expected that Villeneuve will be sporting a new Pepsi race suit for Ipswich after his Townsville attire proved too tight for the Canadian’s trademark ‘baggy’ style.
The situation saw Villeneuve complete the 200km races in a plain white suit before promptly switching back to the branded version for post-race media engagements.
Murphy meanwhile remains hopeful of returning to the V8 Supercars Championship in time for September’s Sandown 500, where he is scheduled to team with Owen Kelly.
Today marks five weeks since the four-time Bathurst winner underwent a second round of surgery on the back injury he sustained in a qualifying crash at March’s Clipsal 500.
“Every day I think about it (the injury) less and less, and things that two weeks ago I wouldn’t even thought of doing are just happening for me now,” Murphy told Speedcafe.com of his progress.
“I certainly couldn’t be driving a racing car at the moment, but it’s coming along really, really well, and there are still a couple of months until Sandown.”