Q & A with Jacques Villeneuve

Q. How well prepared are you now that you have the experience of last year's race and the outing at Spa last month?

Q & A with Jacques Villeneuve

Jacques Villeneuve: "I was ready last year. This time, there's been a lot of work done on the car in one year. It's a lot faster, more competitive, and more reliable than before, which is great. At least I know the track this time, which is a good thing because if it rains during practice and qualifying nobody will be learning that much about the track before the race."

Q. How strong a position do you feel the No.7 car, which you'll share with Nicolas Minassian and Marc Gene, is in?

JV: "I'm very happy with where we are. We worked very well together last year and I have a good chemistry with both Marc and Nicolas. We have similar set-ups so it's easy to drive the car among ourselves, and we had a good race at Spa too. They're good teammates to have because I know the two of them are fast and don't make stupid mistakes. They don't take any stupid risks and in a long race like the 24 Hours that really pays off."

Q. Do you feel completely comfortable with the car now after last year and Spa?

JV: "Oh yeah, definitely. Last year my first stint was when the sun was setting, which was the worst moment of the day because there's a full straight where you're totally blind. Then I also did a lot of driving at night, which is the hardest time. I didn't actually do a lot during the day last year and driving the car in the daylight has been much easier."

Q. How have you found the adjustment to the discipline of endurance racing?

JV: "Actually, it was easier than I expected. At first I was really worried about sharing the car with other drivers because in the past, with my teammates in Formula One, it's always been very difficult to have similar set-ups. I always wanted the car to be different to them and I was worried I would have the same problem here, but I've ended up being with good teammates and that has worked out really easily.

"There are no ego problems between us and we get on well. That's made it fun and easy in that aspect, which has made the whole thing easier than I expected it to be."

Q. How have you found driving through the traffic, particularly with the closing speeds on the GT2 cars?

JV: "It's better here at Le Mans because at least you have long straights. It is a problem because the difference between GT2 and LMP1 lap-times is huge. Also, the level of some drivers in GT2 is an issue. Some of them race maybe only twice a year for fun and there are some weird things happening on the track.

"It's one thing to catch a slow car when you know exactly what that car will do, but when you have a car braking in the middle of a straight because it's a little bit dark or he's not sure of the lines, it can become a little surprising. It's annoying and frustrating for us but at the same time it's part of Le Mans and part of what makes it so special and difficult. It's all part of the challenge."

Q. What would it mean to you to add victory at Le Mans to your F1 world championship and Indy 500 victory?

JV: "The political answer would be to say 'oh no, statistics don't matter'. But actually, at the end of the day, they can. That don't matter at the time, and I don't think about it much when I'm racing, but then you go home and it's always nice to think about.

"Your children will ask questions about your career and if you can say 'yeah, I did this and won this and this' they look at you with big eyes and they're proud of that. My son is too young yet for this, but the time will come and I think it could end up being quite special, so statistics do matter in the end.

"I've won two of the hardest things to win, the Indy 500 and F1, and also the IndyCar title. Le Mans is obviously the big one that's left, and then there would be NASCAR too. Then that would be everything."

Q. Are you confident that you'll be able to get back into NASCAR?

JV: "I would like to think so, that is certainly the aim. I've been working on my own, sponsorship-wise, since January and it just takes a long time to get the sponsorship in place. But I haven't given up yet."

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Villeneuve: I'm ready to win Le Mans

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