Motor racing: Skeptical Villeneuve lauds Alonso's Indy bid

Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:20am EDT
 
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Jacques Villeneuve has applauded Fernando Alonso's gladiatorial spirit in chasing motorsport's 'Triple Crown' but the retired Formula One world champion and Indianapolis 500 winner said he was skeptical about the Spaniard's chances.

Alonso, who races for Honda-powered McLaren in Formula One, will be at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, this weekend to soak up the Indy Car atmosphere before competing in the Indy 500 in May.

A win on the famed Brickyard oval would be sensational but the double world champion will still have to conquer the Le Mans 24 Hours sportscar race to match the unique Triple Crown achieved by the late Briton Graham Hill in 1972.

Villeneuve, who won Indianapolis in 1995 and the Formula One title in 1997 before finishing second with Peugeot at Le Mans in 2008, felt the likelihood of Alonso succeeding was "tiny".

"But he will go for it, and that’s what’s great. That’s what makes it exciting," the Canadian told Reuters at the recent Bahrain Grand Prix.

"It’s typical gladiators and that’s what built the sport, made it what it is today. So it’s good that there’s someone going back to its roots like this, it’s amazing.

"What I find disappointing is how many (F1) drivers say ‘why bother, it’s only an oval race... it’s dangerous, why would I race there?' Well, you’re a racer."

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FILE PHOTO: Canadian race car driver Jacques Villeneuve smiles as he speaks to the media prior to the NAPA Auto Parts 200 Nationwide Series NASCAR race in Montreal, August 18, 2011. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi/File Photo