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Villeneuve hails Alonso’s Indy 500 entry as ‘amazing’

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Jacques Villeneuve has called two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso’s decision to enter the 101st Indianapolis 500 “amazing”, but doubts he stands much chance of winning on debut.

Alonso shocked the motorsport world last week by announcing that he would miss the Monaco Grand Prix in May so he could enter the Indy 500 as part of a joint effort between McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport.

The news has divided opinion in racing circles, but 1995 Indy 500 winner Villeneuve was delighted by it, himself having also raced in both F1 and Indy cars before.

“He will go for it, and that’s what’s great. That’s what makes it exciting. It’s typical gladiators and that’s what built the sport, made it what it is today,” Villeneuve told Reuters.

“So it’s good that there’s someone going back to its roots like this, it’s amazing.” Villeneuve did, however, add that Alonso’s chances of a rookie victory were “tiny”.

Villeneuve is one of just a handful of drivers in racing history to attempt all three races that make up motorsport’s ‘Triple Crown’: the Indy 500 (1994, 1995, 2014), the Monaco Grand Prix (1996-2006) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2007, 2008).

In his bid to become one of the greatest drivers of all-time, Alonso has set his sights on winning the Triple Crown, and Villeneuve is disappointed that more F1 drivers are not similarly-driven.

“What I find disappointing is how many drivers say ‘why bother, it’s only an oval race, it’s dangerous, why would I race there?’ Well, you’re a racer,” Villeneuve said.

“If you are a pure race fan and are passionate and a racer at heart, you have to be interested in Le Mans and Indy 500 as well as F1. It’s the three main things in racing.

“For drivers, it was always important. I finished second in Le Mans which is a shame, that really kills me. That hurts.”

Despite entering all three races, Villeneuve has completed just one leg of the Triple Crown – his Indy win in 1995 – with his best Monaco finish being P4 in 2001 with BAR.

MRTI: Juncos signs Carlos Cunha for Pro Mazda campaign

Photo: Juncos Racing
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Juncos Racing continued to bolster its entries in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by signing Carlos Cunha to pilot a third Juncos Pro Mazda entry for 2018. Cunha, who finished third in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season on the back of seven podium finishes, joins Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis in Juncos’ Pro Mazda lineup for 2018.

Cunha previously tested with the team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in October and joined Juncos for the Chris Griffis Memorial test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November, testing cars for both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams.

“It’s great to become a part of Juncos Racing,” said the 18-year-old Cunha. “I am really excited to start the 2018 season with Juncos Racing. This fall we did some testing together and from there I was able to see how focused everyone on the team is and I even felt like I became a part of their family in no time. I am confident we will get great results together next year and I look forward to learning and growing more with the team. It will be a huge pleasure and also a great responsibility to carry the number one on my car, thanks to (2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni) and I hope to deliver it back to the team at the end of the year!”

Team owner Ricardo Juncos added, “We are excited to add Carlos to our Pro Mazda lineup. From the moment we started testing with him in early October, we knew he would be a great fit for our team. Carlos has been very quick in testing and even had an impressive showing in the Indy Lights car at the Chris Griffis test back in October. He had a great run this past season in the Pro Mazda series and we are confident he will carry that momentum into the 2018 season.”

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