Jacques Villeneuve could be back in a V8 Supercar as soon as the next event at Queensland Raceway.
The former Indy 500 and Formula 1 world champion could retain his ride in the #51 Pepsi Max Crew machine at one of both of the next events at Queensland Raceway and Eastern Creek.
Villeneuve had a quiet weekend on the streets of Townsville, completing all six pre-race sessions at the foot of the time sheets.
His Saturday race lasted just 18 laps due to an engine problem. The French Canadian placed 24th in Sunday’s 200km race, one lap off the leaders.
Despite his challenging weekend, Kelly Racing team owner Rick Kelly says that Villeneuve is being looked at for more races in the immediate future while regular Pepsi driver Greg Murphy continues to recover from back surgery.
“There’s definitely a chance that he could do more races with us,” Kelly told Speedcafe.com.
“Initially, it was about us getting him over here just for Townsville, and to be honest, he did a really good job. You can never expect anyone outside of the category to jump in and be right on the money straight away. Everytime he jumped in the car, he made a really good improvement. He was a pleasure to have in the Pepsi Max Crew in every aspect of his driving and all the jobs outside of the car.
“It would be a pleasure for him to return for more races. We wanted to get this out of the way and that if we can keep him for longer, he will only be stronger next time.”
Kelly says that having Villeneuve return for another meeting in less than a month would be ideal for his and the team’s progress.
“We need consistency in that car, but we haven’t squared anything away,” Kelly said.
“We want to see how Jacques feels about the weekend. If there is a possibility, we’ll discuss it after we can absorb how he has felt and if it’s the best option for him and us.”
Villeneuve leaves Australia today, and when asked about returning for upcoming races, he was non-committal. However, he says that dialogue will start in the coming days about the chances of returning.
“I’d definitely like to come back, but I have to see,” Villeneuve told Speedcafe.com.
“We only ever agreed to come for this race and said that we’d speak after this race.
“It would have been really good to have a test beforehand. I was learning on the fly here, so of course, it would be great to comeback, but I have to look at my schedule and everything like that.”