Former Formula One champion Jacques Villeneuve is among the latest international names being linked to possible rides in the revamped Surfers Paradise V8 Supercar event later this year.
The Canadian, who took the F1 title in only his second season with Williams in 1997, is expected to be confirmed as one of the 'guest' drivers mandated by this season's V8 endurance rules, and could be joined by three antipodean aces now making their name in the US-based IndyCar Series, namely 2010 points leader Will Power, Penske team-mate Ryan Briscoe and former champion Scott Dixon. Villeneuve had hankered after a potential F1 return this season, and was linked to several teams over the winter, but has not raced competitively since his NASCAR ambitions foundered over sponsorship.
All four drivers have previously raced on the Surfers Paradise street course during its lengthy tenure on the CART and Champ Car schedules, as well as the one-off appearance made by IndyCar before the event was dropped by the American series and became the preserve of former joint-headliner V8 Supercars. This year's event, the first to be run as a two-driver enduro round instead of a three-race sprint, is scheduled for 22-24 October.
"We have a mixture of former F1 drivers, Indy 500 champions, IndyCar and Champ Car champions, world touring car and British touring car champions," organiser Brett Murray told AAP
, "We're extremely excited at the calibre of the field we've managed to sign for this new-look event. The interest within the driving ranks internationally has exceeded our expectations - there's no doubt that it'll be one of the greatest gatherings of driving talent ever seen in Australia."
The only drivers so far confirmed as partners for the V8 Supercar regulars are Grand-Am champion Scott Pruett, IndyCar ace Alex Tagliani and reigning Le Mans 24 Hours champion David Brabham. A full line-up is expected to be revealed in the coming days.