Jacques Villeneuve: Rallying and concerned about F1 in 2014

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The 1997 Formula One World Champion, Jacques Villeneuve, has never been short of candor, even as his active racing career has dwindled over the last few years.

He’s got the racing part back, announcing Thursday he will compete for the Scottish Albatec Racing team in the new World Rallycross Championship. This WRC is a different rally series from the FIA World Rally Championship (also WRC), and is also different than Red Bull Global Rallycross (GRC), which despite its name is a primarily U.S.-based series.

Villeneuve will race a 600 bhp Peugeot 208 in the championship that competes, like both the other WRC and GRC, on gravel and asphalt surfaces with a series of jumps.

Now that that confusing bit is out of the way, here’s the less confusing bit: Villeneuve doesn’t like the direction F1 is going.

“I don’t understand what they are trying to do. I don’t understand the concept,” he told Autosport at the time of his rally program reveal.

“Formula 1 is not epic anymore, the drivers are not heroes. The problem is that the changes are being made in an artificial way and that doesn’t work.”

He also said that when it gets “boring,” the rules tend to get, in his words, more “artificial.”

Villeneuve went through several iterations of F1 in his own career from 1996 through 2006.

His first two years saw some cockpit design changes, the elimination of V12 engines and the shift to car numbers based on the previous year’s Constructor’s Championship. In 1998, grooved tires were introduced, which added another element to the show.

The V10s omnipresent through 2005 before they took a final bow, as the then-new V8 powerplants were introduced that year.

We’re all waiting to see how the 2014 season shakes out before making any harsh judgments, but Villeneuve’s coming at it from a soundbite-worthy, “hope it doesn’t take a turn for the worse” mentality.

IndyCar star Scott Dixon to test skills on ‘American Ninja Warrior’

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Scott Dixon will be the latest IndyCar driver to enter the realm of reality TV when he auditions in Indianapolis next week for “American Ninja Warrior.”

The four-time IndyCar champion, nicknamed “The Iceman,” thought it sounded fun when he was approached with the idea of trying out. As the competition has drawn near, Dixon is wondering what he got himself into.

“I feel a lot of pressure on this one,” Dixon told The Associated Press before heading to this weekend’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. “When it got to be about a month away, I figured I should start training for it, and it’s pretty hard stuff.”

IndyCar drivers Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden and Tony Kanaan all auditioned for the show, which follows competitors as they tackle a series of obstacle courses in qualifying rounds across the country. None of IndyCar’s contestants advanced out of the first round and neither did NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Dixon’s appearance comes about the same time the Game Show Network has Sebastien Bourdais as a guest host for “Daily Draw” for the entire week leading into the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Most recently, Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly teamed to finish fourth on “The Amazing Race,” and James Hinchcliffe was a runner-up last year on “Dancing With The Stars.” Castroneves is a former “DWTS” winner.

Dixon, the 2008 winner of the Indianapolis 500 who ranks fourth on IndyCar’s all-time wins list, is accustomed to success. But the New Zealander not so sure he’s going to become the next great ninja. Most of his fitness work focuses on endurance training, and preparing for the obstacle course has taken Dixon out of his element.

“It’s not my wheelhouse,” he said. “This is agility kind of stuff and I’m looking forward to the process. I’m not looking forward so much to the failure, because it’s going to happen at some point, so I guess I just have to make the most of it and enjoy the experience.”

Dixon was famously robbed at gunpoint in the drive-thru of a Taco Bell last year hours after he won the pole for the Indy 500. Asked if his ninja training will have him better prepared should that happen again, he did not think so.

“I suppose if I run away it would help,” Dixon said. “But I don’t exactly have a ninja toolkit to get me through that situation.”