Having former Formula One world champion Jacques Villeneuve competing in this year's FIA World Rallycross Championship is a major coup for the series.

The Canadian driver will race an Albatec Racing-run Peugeot 208 Supercar in the 12 events. Albatec is headed by Inverness-based Andy Scott, who will drive a second 208.

Rallycross is undergoing a resurgence, which began when sports marketing experts IMG took over the promotion of the FIA European championship at the end of 2012. The series will be a world championship for the first time this year and will break new ground by visiting Turkey, Argentina and Canada.

Last year IMG attracted headlines by placing nine-time World Rally Championship title winner Sébastien Loeb in a car for the French round at Loheac, where he battled Kris Meeke, who was also making a one-off appearance.

Attracting star names is a key pillar in IMG's effort to promote the sport. Adding a driver of Villeneuve's calibre is a further step in the process of making the discipline one of the most popular and fastest growing forms of motor sport in the world.

"This is a big challenge," said Villeneuve, who won his F1 title with the Williams team in 1997. "The cars are phenomenal and I'm really looking forward to working with Albatec to develop the 208 and learn about this form of racing."

Villeneuve added that the performance of the rallycross supercars was another factor in his decision: "They have a lot of power, 600bhp, and the four-wheel-drive means the traction is incredible. The car is very responsive.

"I'm not very familiar with the other drivers and they will have more experience of this type of racing than I have but in my first year I'm here to learn. But also I'm a born racer and I had success in my first year in IndyCar and in Formula One so to replicate that is the aim."

The British round of the World Rallycross Championship takes place at Lydden Hill in Kent on May 24/25.

James Bolton is the national rallying editor of Motorsport News, Autocar’s sister publication.