F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve has confirmed his desire to extend his stay in the V8 Supercar series by agreeing to pilot the Pepsi Max Crew entry at the Coates Hire Ipswich 300 and Sydney Motorsport Park 360.
Villeneuve returns to Australia after competing in this month's Sucrogen Townsville 400 and will continue to replace the injured Greg Murphy while the Kiwi sits on the sidelines recovering from major back surgery. The Canadian retired on his first outing in the car in Townsville before coming home 24th in race two.
"It is great news for the Pepsi Max Crew and V8 Supercars that Jacques is coming back to race in Australia for the next two events," Kelly Racing director Todd Kelly said, "Jacques is a absolute professional and will add a lot of value to the team, especially as he secures further seat time over the next couple of rounds.
"Jumping in the car at Townsville without testing - or, for that matter, even sitting in the car - was a daunting task, but he took it all in his stride and was pleased with
his efforts and have absolutely no doubt he will quickly move through the field in future events."
Villeneuve, who won the 1997 F1 title but has not raced in the top flight since 2006, was equally buoyant about the opportunity to extend a career that has most recently seen him dabble in NASCAR and sportscars as well as V8s.
"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," he claimed, "These are difficult cars to drive and there is terrific talent in this category, so I was realistic about my chances in Townsville after not even testing the car.
"On reflection, I 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."
Adam Burling, brand manager at sponsor Pepsico, announced that the partnership would see Villeneuve sporting a new livery for the Ipswich event, changing from his helmet and graffiti inspired theme at Townsville.
"We've got another new livery design on the way that's all about a new product that we are launching in August, so it's a big couple of weeks for the Pepsi Max Crew," Burling noted, "It's great that we've been able to secure Jacques for the next two rounds of the V8 Supercar championship. He was a great addition to the Pepsi Max Crew in Townsville and we're really excited to see how he goes at Ipswich in a couple of weeks."
This will be the fourth livery rotation for the year for the Pepsi Max Crew which will be launched in advance of the Ipswich event.