Franchitti heads to IRL with Andretti
|Tuesday, September 17th 2002, 16:19 GMT|
Dario Franchitti and new team boss Michael Andretti will turn their backs on CART next season to race in the rival Indy Racing League. The Scot, winner of last weekend's Rockingham 500 Champ Car race, will be joined in a three-car squad by Andretti and fellow CART racer Tony Kanaan.
The outfit, formerly known as Team Green, will continue to be powered by Honda engines, with the Japanese marque having already announced its plan to switch series. As announced last month, it will be known as Andretti Green Racing.
The length of Franchitti's deal has not been stated, but appears to be for more than one year.
"I'm excited to know that I'll be with Andretti and Honda in the coming seasons," said Franchitti. "Team Green, Honda and I have enjoyed a lot of success together. I've always had a lot of respect for Michael, but working with him as a team-mate the past two years has strengthened our relationship.
"Adding Tony to the mix is the icing on the cake. Anybody who saw this year's Indianapolis 500 knows he's a great race driver, but those of us who have been fortunate enough to know him also understand that he's a great guy, as well as a good friend."
The news will be another blow to CART following the defection of its most famous team, Penske, to the IRL for this season. Andretti said that his decision was influenced by Honda's decision to quit CART for the all-oval IRL.
"Honda's history and commitment to racing are second to none, and were a major factor in my decision to come to Team Green in 2001," he said. "My experience with Honda the past two seasons has only deepened my respect for their dedication and professionalism, and I look forward to continuing our successful relationship in the IRL."
Kanaan's sole CART victory came under Honda power and the Brazilian was thrilled to be part of the new venture.
"Wow! It's an honour to be part of that program," he said. "I know this first full season of IRL competition will be a challenge to all of us, but I can't think of better partners."
No decision has yet been made on what chassis the team will run. There will definitely not be a parallel CART programme.