UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX NOTEBOOK Villeneuve predicts Sunday thriller; M. Schumacher enjoys role as easy rider INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, June 17, 2005 -- Jacques Villeneuve, winner of the 1995 Indianapolis 500 and the 1997 World Championship,...
UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX NOTEBOOK
Villeneuve predicts Sunday thriller; M. Schumacher enjoys role as easy rider
INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, June 17, 2005 -- Jacques Villeneuve, winner of the 1995 Indianapolis 500 and the 1997 World Championship, predicts that Sunday's United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be an exciting race for the fans and drivers.
"It is always a fun race here," he said. "There is always a lot of action in the race, so I am definitely looking forward to it."
Villeneuve is enjoying the relaxed and friendly atmosphere of the F1 paddock area at Indianapolis.
"Here at Indy, it is one of the most relaxed paddocks that we go to," he said. "There is a lot of space, and after the hectic weekend of Montreal, here feels really relaxed. Canada was great. I had a great time in Canada even though there were some hectic moments with the media."
Easy rider: Three-time United States Grand Prix winner Michael Schumacher went for a motorcycle tour with friends between the F1 races in Montreal and Indianapolis. Their ride took them from Asheville, N.C., up to Indianapolis.
"You have great spots country-wise," he said of the U.S. "We stayed in this Blue Ridge Parkway area. We spent about one and a half days there. Then we went to Dealer's Point; we did this run. And that was just awesome. You have so many beautiful places to experience, and having the chance to come here to race, I obviously want to take the opportunity and see the country."
Schumacher, who rides a Harley-Davidson and always wears a helmet, enjoys the freedom that motorcycles give him.
"I love biking, particularly because you just feel so free," he said. "You get the air, you feel like you're in the open sky. It's like (scuba) diving in a way. That's on the opposite side, you're in the water, you glide, and you feel a bit like flying."
Hard riding: BMW WilliamsF1 Team driver Mark Webber and Red Bull Racing driver Christian Klien visited the Trek bicycle factory in Madison, Wis., on the way to Indianapolis. They met up with Tom Danielson (winner of the Tour de Georgia) and Michael Creed, who are two members of Lance Armstrong's Discovery Channel cycling team, discussed various aspects of both their sports and went on some tough training rides.
"It was very windy, which made it quite hard to ride," Webber said. "We had a reasonable size group of riders and did over 200 km (120 miles.)"
Schumacher enjoys fans' welcome: Michael Schumacher enjoys visiting Indianapolis and the enthusiasm of the F1 fans here.
"I very much like coming to this motorsport city, because I don't think there are many races that draw this many fans," he said. "Sometimes you get the impression that all Europeans living in the U.S.A. gather for this event. We always receive a rapturous welcome, and sometimes the enthusiasm is even bigger than at some of the European races."
First out: Robert Doornbos was the first driver to head out onto the 13-turn, 2.605-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway's road circuit as official practice for the United States Grand Prix got underway at 11 a.m. Friday. Doornbos is the test/reserve driver for Jordan-Toyota and drives the third car in the Friday practice sessions.
Award winners: Tony di Zinno, 16, Greg Woods, 16, and Kyle Connelly, 17, are attending the United States Grand Prix as winners of "The Chris Economaki Junior Journalism Award."
The award, sponsored by Red Bull, was given to three students who best exemplified writing and reporting skills and achievement in covering the motorsports industry. It is designed to motivate and encourage aspiring journalists to hone their craft while focusing attention and creating excitement about the sport and the innovative Red Bull Driver Search program.
Tickets: Tickets for the United States Grand Prix can be purchased online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, or by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.