V8 SUPERCAR driver Paul Dumbrell says sharing a seat at this weekend’s Gold Coast 600 with former Formula One world champion Jacques Villeneuve is simply incredible.
The Ford driver will team with the Canadian on the streets of Surfers Paradise, and he feels he’s the luckiest man on the V8 Supercar grid.
Despite several IndyCar drivers, former Formula One pilots and overseas touring car stars being in the 18-man international field for this weekend’s event, it is Villeneuve who is taking top billing.
Some of the star-struck Australian drivers are even contemplating turning fans in pit lane and asking for the 1995 Indianapolis 500 and 1997 Formula One world champion’s autograph.
“I was laughing with Will Davison a little while ago that when we were 15 or 16 we were staying up watching the F1 grand prix and he (Villeneuve) was driving a Rothmans car and winning the world championship,” Dumbrell said yesterday.
“It’s incredible. Good for the category, the level of international quality out there is phenomenal.”
While Villeneuve is currently without a full-time drive, Dumbrell believes he has secured the best international co-driver in the field and he is anticipating the partnership to bear fruit.
“You’d think so, on paper,” Dumbrell said when asked if Villeneuve was as good as it got.
“F1 world champion, IndyCar champion, Indy500 winner, one of only a couple of guys to have done it on both continents – F1 and also IndyCars – so you’d think so.
“He’s still very, very competitive in the Nationwide (American minor category) and Nascar stuff he’s been doing.
For his part, Villeneuve has already indicated the possibility of his guest appearance turning into a full-time drive in Australia if the opportunity arises.
But he would only consider a multi-year deal, with his main focus at the moment being to secure a full-time Nascar deal.
“It’s always nicer to be in Australia on a holiday but it’s great fun to be here. It’s a good atmosphere,” Villeneuve said.
“I’d be interested (in V8 Supercars) if it’s long-term.
“It has to be a proper deal, not just a few races and let us see how it goes. You can’t move your whole family to Australia with an unknown.”
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