Yesterday, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series announced that Jacques Villeneuve and Patrick Lemarié’s Formula 4 academy team FEED Racing will be entering the series starting from the 2020 season.
Villeneuve had previously hinted that he is planning to become an owner-driver in 2020 on his interview with Leadlap after the conclusion of this year’s NASCAR GP of Germany. In the interview, Villeneuve revealed that he hopes to start his own team next year after a successful debut year with Go Fas Racing.
FEED Racing was formed by Villeneuve and childhood friend Lemarié in 2018 as a racing academy aimed to launch the careers of young, future world motorsport talents with limited financial resources. The winner of FEED Racing’s academy search will be receiving an opportunity to race in the British Formula 4 Championship with Carlin.
For the 2020 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season, FEED Racing will field the No. 5 and No. 6 teams with its co-founders competing in the EuroNASCAR PRO class. Villeneuve is scheduled to drive the No. 5 team full-time while Lemarié is going to make his Euro Series debut in the No. 6 team.
“This [FEED Racing] is a project aimed at giving young talents the opportunity to grow and become professionals in racing. I always loved this kind of cars and races and after gaining some valuable experience last year in NWES, we are ready to take the next step,” said Villeneuve to euronascar.com.
“With Patrick we know each other since we were eight years old, he was the test driver at BAR in Formula 1 and we founded the FEED Racing academy together, so this is a natural step forward. The EuroNASCAR car is perfect to learn the basics of driving a race car, it is bold and aggressive, it has no electronic aids and plenty of horsepower and since two drivers share the car, we will be able to do a proficient work together with our young drivers. The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series can open a very interesting development path for them and in the next couple of months we’ll evaluate the opportunity to expand to three or four cars, fielding more top drivers and more up-and-coming talents.”
The 2020 season will be Villeneuve’s second season in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series after he made his debut season this year with Go Fas Racing. While the 1997 Formula One World Champion didn’t score a race win this year, he scored 3 podium finishes, 7 Top-10 finishes, 2 pole positions, and 2 fastest laps to finish the season in 8th place in the championship as the best-performing “rookie” driver in the Elite 1.
“Progressing will be the key element. Personally I’ll want to do better than last year and that logically includes fighting for the NWES championship and bring home some wins. The same will be for all our drivers, we’ll want the EuroNASCAR PRO drivers to be able to compete at the front and the EuroNASCAR 2 drivers to show they can step up to the top championship in 2021,” said the Canadian on his goals for next year.
For Patrick Lemarié, the 2020 NWES season will mark his return to racing for the first time since his sole CART season in 2003. Lemarié, a childhood friend of Villeneuve, has previously worked together with the Canadian as a test driver for the British American Racing (BAR) team for four years. Lemarié made his decision to race in the 2020 season after he attended this year’s NASCAR GP of Belgium at Circuit Zolder.
“I really look forward to drive a Euro NASCAR car! I’m a close friend with Jacques since a very long time and last year he was so enthusiastic about the NWES car and the championship and he told me this would be the perfect occasion to race together. So here we are, I’ll come back after 15 years!” said Lemarié to euronascar.com.
“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to return behind the wheel but I went to Zolder for the NWES Finals, I saw the car and the championship and I was immediately very excited about this opportunity. I’m super happy to be Jacques’ teammate and I really want to enjoy the races. The goals of the entire FEED Racing project is to help young talents and we think that the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series can be a very good opportunity for them. The car is challenging to drive and definitely a great school and they can share the car with us, so they can learn how to work and have a good exposure for their sponsors. We hope it can open many doors for them,” further adds Lemarié.
FEED also announced that 17-year old Belgian Simon Pilate, who became a semi-finalist in this year’s FEED Racing Driver Search, is going to make his Euro Series debut in the EuroNASCAR 2 class as Lemarie’s teammate in the No. 6 team.
“Simon is a very young driver with very little experience, but he was very impressive during his time at FEED Racing. He was very excited about this opportunity and that’s exactly what we want,” said Lemarié on the topic of Pilate. “To have such a promising young driver with us is very good, he’s always carefully listening to what we say and constantly learning. I’m sure he’s going to be competitive.”
FEED Racing is planning to do a shakedown test in February at the team’s base in Magny-Cours as a preparation for the team’s debut race in the season opening round at Valencia on 25-26 April 2020.
With this announcement, FEED Racing becomes the third team to confirm their intentions to compete in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series next year after Alex Caffi Motorsport – with partnership from former NWES team Race Art Technology starting from 2020 – and DF1 Racing previously announced that they will be returning to the grid next year. DF1 also have already announced previously that Justin Kunz and Alain Mosqueron will be returning to the team for next year’s campaign.
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / FEED Racing France.