FORD HAS confirmed that Jacques Villeneuve won’t return to the Gold Coast 600 this year, and it has also given up on its push to have him here full-time.
Ford motorsport manager Chris Styring was trying to lure Villeneuve to race at this year’s Bathurst and Phillip Island endurance races, couldn’t raise the money required to meet the 1997 world champion’s demands.
Styring wouldn’t give a figure, but AA understands Villeneuve wanted around $300,000 to race at the enduros – an amount Ford couldn’t afford on its own.
“He was pretty frustrated and disappointed that we couldn’t make it happen this year,” Styring told AA.
“Naturally he’s a top calibre driver and the money wasn’t ridiculous sums but in fairness, someone of that calibre, an ex-world champion and Indy 500 winner, you have to pay accordingly. I’m very disappointed that we can’t have him out here.
I think he would have done a great job at Bathurst and Phillip Island. He had every potential to drive full-time in 2012, so it would have been a good opportunity to get him to cut his teeth in those races, but the opportunity just wasn’t there.”
Styring requested V8 Supercars’ assistance in fund-raising to afford Villeneuve, but V8 Supercars was reluctant to help.
“I’m disappointed that this didn’t come off and V8s are, rightly so, having a strategy where they want to expand the sport.
That is of great interest to Ford Motor Company and we’re very much behind it. To have a driver of Villeneuve’s calibre in the series permanently for 2011 or 2012, is a fantastic opportunity and I think that if a little bit more assistance from V8s was forthcoming, this could have been a reality.”
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