Monday, May 5, 2014

Jacques Villeneuve Frustrated After His First FIA World RallyCross

Montalegre, Portugal — Sunday 4 May, 2014; Albatec Racing was forced to miss its place in the semi finals in the opening round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy today, after fire damage sustained to the Peugeot 208 of Andy Scott in heat four brought his hopes to an end. Series debutant, former F1 and Indycar World Champion Jacques Villeneuve also had his chances of progressing halted prematurely after he was unable to take to the grid for today’s third heat, which effectively dropped him out of contention.

The Dumfries-based team worked into the early hours to iron out the issues that had affected both two-litre 16v cars yesterday, and the result was a return to pace by Jacques in this morning’s warm-up session. Unfortunately a steering issue just before the session started meant Andy was unable to take to the track.

Ahead of heat three though, a water leak was discovered on Jacques’ car leaving him and the team understandably frustrated, although the French Canadian bounced back in the fourth heat with a strong drive in front of the enthusiastic crowd. It wasn’t enough to see him progress through to the final, but nevertheless he proved more than a match for the established runners.

With the steering problem now rectified on Andy’s car, he headed out to the grid for heat three but was forced to joker twice, dropping him down to tenth, but an exhaust fire in the last heat effectively ended his hopes. Despite the best efforts of the team to get the car repaired and out onto the pre-grid for the six-car semi final, they were unable to keep the engine running, denying Andy the chance to start the race.

Andy Scott, Team Principal, Albatec Racing driver #26:

“I had a good reaction to the start but didn’t have the right strategy, I had too much wheel spin and no chance to challenge for position onto the main circuit, so I elected to joker. On the second lap, I was pushing hard but locked up going into the first corner, missing the turn in point and was forced to take the joker again. The second heat started well, but immediately the exhaust problem we had yesterday returned and after two laps I had to stop as the underneath of the car was on fire.”

“All the boys worked really hard to try and get the car going again after the fire damage but we simply ran out of time to get into the semi final. We could get the engine running but we couldn’t keep it going and under the rules that meant we were out.  It’s not the weekend we wanted or expected, we’re now on the back foot, we planned to go away and just perfect the set-up of the car we’ve got, but now we have to go and build a new car.”

Jacques Villeneuve, Albatec Racing driver #25:

“Everything went wrong this weekend, but that’s part of racing. I’ve been racing long enough to know that nine times out of ten you get hacked off, but then you have that one special day when it makes you forget about the other nine times. It’s been a hard weekend for everyone, the car was late, we didn’t have enough people working on the cars due to things outside of our control and the guys have had to do a couple of all nighters, so it’s turned out to be a weekend more of an appetiser than the proper start to the season.”

“Coming here from Indy I was really hoping to have a good result here and go back ready for the Indy500 pumped up, but that hasn’t happened which leaves me a little frustrated.  It’s left me hungry, it didn’t really give me a taste of real rallycross as we had too many issues, so it took the fun away, but the little testing we did have gave me a better outlook of what it should feel like so I’m not going to take this weekend as an example. We’ll have more time to prepare before the next time.”