Snowmobile-racing champ Jacques Villeneuve (brother of Gilles and uncle to the 1997 F1 world champion of the same name) has revealed that he is undergoing treatment for cancer.
Having won the Eagle River World Championship Snowmobile Derby in 1980 & 1982, he became the first person to win a third world title with victory in 1986, but subsequently suffered serious injuries on two occasions and eventually retired from all racing in February.
The Canadian also raced briefly in motorsport’s top flight F1, attempting to qualify for three races between 1981 and 1983, before returning to Canada to concentrate on a combination of CART and snowmobile racing.
His first foray into F1 came in via two outings with Arrows, but he failed to make the grade for either the Montreal or Caesars Palace grand prix. The following year was marred by the death of his brother – Villeneuve’s announcement coincided with the 32nd anniversary of Gilles’ death in qualifying for the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix – but the younger Canadian made another unsuccessful attempt to register an F1 start at the 1983 after joining RAM for his home race.
Villeneuve then concentrated on racing in North America, initially in the Can-Am series – where he claimed the 1983 title – and then in a CART career that yielded pole in Phoenix and victory at Road America, both in 1984, where he finished 15th in the standings. While he maintained a presence in both single-seaters and sportscars, Villeneuve’s main focus has remained on snowmobile racing.
The 60-year old confirmed his latest diagnosis to the Montreal Gazette, having suffered recurring – and worsening – stomach pains. Sadly, he revealed that the cancer was already at an advanced stage and recovery would be ‘difficult’.