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Villeneuve "will be there on lap time" for WEC Sebring opener

Jacques Villeneuve will be on the pace when he returns to full-time racing with Vanwall in the World Endurance Championship this year, according to team-mate Esteban Guerrieri.

Jacques Villeneuve, Floyd Vanwall Racing Team

The Argentinian, who will share Vanwall’s Le Mans Hypercar with Villeneuve and Tom Dillmann, believes that the 51-year-old veteran “will be there on lap time” when the 2023 WEC begins with the Sebring 1000 Miles on 17 March.

“It is very good to have him on board, he is a world champion, of course, and I think he is going to be quick as well, which is what matters in the end,” said Guerrieri.

Villeneuve, Formula 1 world champion with Williams in 1997, had undertaken an week of intensive fitness training as part of his preparations for the new season prior to going to the Vanwall factory for a seat fitting with his team-mates last week, Guerrieri revealed

“He is very motivated: he was coming from a full week of training, I think, in Austria,” explained Guerrieri.

“Jacques is back to his old motivated days of F1, he was saying, with the people who used to train him.”

Jacques Villeneuve, Vanwall Vandervell LMH, ByKolles Racing

Jacques Villeneuve, Vanwall Vandervell LMH, ByKolles Racing

Photo by: Vanwall Group

Villeneuve is making a return to full-time competition for the first time since 2019 when he contested the NASCAR Euro Series and is back in a prototype 15 years on from his campaigns at the Le Mans 24 Hours with the Peugeot 908 HDi LMP1 turbodiesel in 2007-08.

He faces a lack of mileage in the Vanwall Vandervell 680 heading into the season: his only time in the car came when he was given a try-out at Barcelona in late November.

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Villeneuve was unable to attend the team’s final development run at Aragon before Christmas, while the team’s focus since has been on the homologation of the car rather than testing.

Team boss Colin Kolles has stated that Vanwall’s priority at the official WEC pre-season test, known at the Prologue, at Sebring the weekend before the race will be on giving Villeneuve seat time.

“It will be tough, a long way [for him to go], because he has not had so much mileage in the car,” he said.

“But we have the Prologue at Sebring, so we are planning to give him the most possible mileage and we’ll see how he develops.”

Guerrieri and Dillmann will be both new to Sebring International Raceway, but Villeneuve has extensive experience of the Florida venue from his time in the CART Indycar series in 1994-95.

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