Indifferent to criticism … Jacques Villeneuve.Jacques Villeneuve is probably happy to be an ocean away from a brouhaha that followed his heavy-handed contact with Danica Patrick on the final lap of last weekend’s NASCAR Nationwide race at Road America. The race was the first of just two he was committed to this year. After his sponsor Discount Tire slammed Villeneuve’s actions and attitude, there may not be another chance to offend. The 41-year-old Canadian, the 1997 formula one world champ who is very much a part-time racer these days, has been typically indifferent to the criticism and a confrontation from Patrick’s crew chief. ”It had nothing to do with me [being at fault] so I don’t care,” he said.
A statement from the sponsor didn’t miss Villeneuve, a gent with a history of rubbing people the wrong way. ”Although we believe the contact between Villeneuve and Patrick to be unfortunate, it is a part of professional racing,” it said. ”However, Villeneuve’s post-race comments did not reflect our ideals regarding sportsmanship.” Villeneuve is making a cameo in V8 Supercars next weekend, subbing for the injured Greg Murphy. V8 Supercars Australia may have been better advised to put Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston into a race car. V8SA is optimistically hoping a massive crowd will turn out to help the viability of the Townsville street race. There has also been a shameless orchestrated push to dissuade the cost-cutting new Queensland LNP government from withdrawing $6 million of taxpayer funding for the Gold Coast street race. Keeping a straight face, V8SA honcho Tony Cochrane insists the marquee race will relocate to Sydney or Melbourne if the Queenslanders dump the event. This seems to ignore the reality that the NSW and Victorian governments have not indicated any interest.
FIRES HALT PIKES PEAK
The Pikes Peak International hillclimb, set for July 8, has been postponed due to wildfire. High winds created safety issues in the mountainous area of Colorado where the fire has already destroyed homes and triggered the evacuation of an estimated 35,000 people. Australian Jeff Denmeade was one of 211 competitors from around the world preparing for the 90th running of Pikes Peak. This year for the first time the course is entirely bitumen, meaning records were expected to tumble. In an ambitious tilt at a class victory with an all-Australian effort, Denmeade had shipped a Queensland-built Skelta G-Force to the US. He was two hours away from Pikes Peak conducting altitude testing with the Honda-engined sports car when news of the event’s postponement came through. Organisers are expected to announce a new date for the event on Tuesday. Denmeade initially believed he would have to miss the event. ”We’re all dressed up with nowhere to play,” he told The Sun-Herald. After conferring with his car supplier, Denmeade says he will store his car nearby and wait for the race to proceed.
SCHUMACHER BACK IN MIX
After the European Grand Prix in Valencia last Sunday, Michael Schumacher found himself in surroundings unfamiliar to him in recent years – the podium. It was his first top-three finish since his comeback began in 2010 and it’s fair to suggest it took longer than most expected. Schumacher survived censure from stewards after he used his DRS (drag reduction system) under the caution flag when drivers are obliged to slow down. His Mercedes team has been making plenty of excuses on his behalf for much of this season, largely blaming unreliability. Schumacher’s deal expires at the end of this season and no one is saying if he’ll go or stay. Despite his lack of results, Schumacher appears to be enjoying his racing. He will turn 44 before the start of the 2013 world championship so he could decide to walk away for a second time.
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