It was a tough weekend for Jacques Villeneuve as he filled in for Greg Murphy at the Sucrogen Townsville 400.
“It was a hard race but I’m very happy,” said Villeneuve.
“I just needed to get the laps done and see how the car went and how the tyres evolved between the hard and the soft. I also got to practice my starts and the start went very well. I got three or four cars off the line so that was really good, but then into braking I braked really early, I didn’t want to get mixed up. There was no point to me doing a kamakazi I still kept a few positions so that was fine.
“I really had a hard time on the hard tyre. Our set-up worked well on the soft tyre but on the hard tyre I just couldn’t lean on them and that was really, really, really difficult to drive, not having done that segment of the race yesterday on the hard tyres.
“I figured out after 10 laps that it was going to be a hard race because the way I was sitting in the car it was like sitting in a road car and putting a pillow behind my back. So I was moving around so much I had cramps already after 10 laps, so I knew it was going to be a long day.
“We pitted early because I couldn’t keep up with the hard tyres. It was a lot better on the soft tyres and in the first half of that stint the lap times were good. Then they started going off a little bit and at that point the cooling stopped working and the power steering stopped working intermittently through the corner.
“So we went through a bit of everything today. We changed the engine overnight and with the mapping, when it was on low RPMs it would cough.
“On the last set of tyres the car was really good. I adjusted the front and rear roll bars a little bit and I could keep quite a good pace. But I was a lap down anyway so I wasn’t racing anyone.
“When the Safety Car came out I was in the middle of the pack so I let everybody go by, I didn’t want to be in the battle, I just gave myself a gap and in those last 10 laps I was catching the guys in front of me. So our pace at that point, late in the race, was really good.
“It was a very eventful race, a lot happened, which was a big learning experience for the future if there is any. So I’m very happy about that. A big thanks to the Pepsi Max Crew because all weekend they worked very hard with me and were extremely helpful. The other drivers from the team as well have been very helpful. Everybody has been really helpful.
“I think this is the toughest thing I have ever done in my racing career. To come here just for the race without any preparation, I’ve never done anything so hard, but I loved the challenge.
“I really enjoyed having the car to myself because I could really work on trying to understand what the car was doing, working on the set-up and figuring it out and racing against the quick guys.
“Basically, when we came to the Gold Coast it was easy to be quicker than the internationals, but we were never really on the track at the same time as the main drivers.
“So we all felt great and thought ‘hey, we didn’t do too bad’ when we actually weren’t that quick. So today, this weekend for me was a great learning experience because I could really go against the best.
QUESTION: Would you like to come back and do some more V8 Supercars Championship event?
“Definitely. I think I have done the hardest bit, so anything that comes after this will just be a lot easier. So I hope I can carry on with the Pepsi Max Crew and have more fun.”