Franchitti column

Autosport.com columnist Dario Franchitti had the Vancouver race under control until a late race stall in the pits handed victory to his team mate Paul Tracy. While the 1-2 result was perfect for Team Green, Franchitti left disappointed

Franchitti column

I guess after the season I've had I should be delighted with second place at Vancouver, but really I'm gutted. I wanted this win so badly,.

I've had some pretty good cars over the last couple of years, and this certainly ranks right up there among them. Our cars were just fantastic all weekend, so I must say thanks to Steve Challis, my engineer who is recovering from a stroke - his recovery has been incredible, bearing in mind that he couldn't even speak last December. He's been incredible, and Tino Belli, Tony Cicale on Paul's side. And the rest of the engineers and crew. It's been a fantastic team effort. Honda too have got a great engine now. I guess the 1-2-3-4 after qualifying showed that. The whole thing is working very, very well.

I was fastest in every session except for the warm-up, and I was second in that. I led from the start, and through the first round of stops. Then we had a yellow, which meant if we pitted, we could get to the end of the race.

We've had some discussions about the way the pit-lane limiter works. I prefer to hold it the button on when I need it, but Honda say it's more consistent and safer if I press a button once and it's on. Then what it does is limit the revs, to the equivalent of 50mph. We pitted for fuel only under the yellow, and as they cleared me to go I was right on the limiter. Because we hadn't changed tyres, they were still sticky and it turned out that 50mph wasn't enough. As I let the clutch out the wheels didn't spin, and the thing just stalled on me.

We got going again pretty quickly, but by then my team mate Paul Tracy was ahead, and we could run all the way to the finish with that fuel. Before the race the team had an agreement, pretty much like we always do for any race when we're running up front. Unless there's a lot of pressure coming on from third place, which clearly wasn't the case on Sunday, we stay as we are.

I definitely had my best chance to pass Paul on the restart, going into T1, and down the back straight. Pick a corner, I felt I could do it. But I don't think my team boss Barry Green , nor Paul - nor the massive Canadian crowd - would have appreciated it! I knew I wasn't allowed to pass Paul, but believe me I was giving him some pressure, keeping him honest. And a couple of times he looked a bit hot. But he knew, the same as me, that I wasn't going to pass him... Although I don't know how much he trusted me!

A deal's a deal, and I'm at peace with that, as that's the deal we did. If it had been reversed, I would have expected the same. It's better to have a 1-2 finish than to have an incident like we had at Chicago where we crashed out together... And if you look at the facts, Paul's fighting for the championship and, realistically - and sadly - I'm not.

I always seem to go well in the Canadian races, I think because they're both street courses. Both Toronto and Vancouver are both cities I really enjoy, and I get a good feeling coming here racing. And I've had successes in the past.

This time was particularly special for sure, as Vancouver was Greg Moore's home town, and I missed the fact that he wasn't there. We were very close as friends, and this race has some very special memories for me, both on and off the track. Vancouver is a great place, but with Greg not here, there was no doubt that something special was missing. I was pushing hard to win, like I do every weekend, but the significance of this particular weekend was not lost on me. I wanted the win really badly.

Time heals wounds, and obviously I miss Greg, but I have a good feeling about it now, and that comes with time. The atmosphere in Vancouver was good, a happy and positive one, rather than at Toronto where it was pretty morbid. Everyone had the right attitude here. They realised he's not here any more, and we have to remember all the good stuff and look forward. The events that were organised surrounding the race were more of a celebration, and that made it easier for me.

One of the things they did was to initiate the Greg Moore Pole Award. Greg's mum Donna came up to me before and said "I want you to win this, I want you to get pole.' I said, "Hmmm, OK, I'll see what I can do!" I was pushing hard and I really wanted it , but at the same time I think Paul wanted it too. We were both certainly giving 100% out there. The pole award was a consolation, a good feeling.

Another good feeling is signing to stay with Team Green next year, with Paul again as my team-mate. It's a kind of feels like the whole team is a bit more relaxed now, because they were saying, are you staying, are you going? There were a lot of choices, but in the end it came down to what I know was definitely the best choice. I know Team Kool Green. Paul and I have worked well together - we've been successful, apart from our little occasional incidents, but that's all part of growing up! All the mechanics were reading all these wild and crazy rumours written in the press, and then they find out that Paul and I are back, and it's like "Oh it's you two again after all that." It's a good feeling.

It's funny reading all the stories about what I was going to be doing in 2001! There are some really amazing rumours out there. I wonder just how silly this silly season can get. We start a lot of rumours between us! We had a great one going with Greg a couple of years ago, in that he was going to switch to NASCAR. We kept that one running for months! It was funny to see which members of the press bought that one...

On the slowing down lap I asked the team to try and connect me so I could talk to Paul. The organisers had painted Greg's name and the word 'courage' on the start line. I was trying to say to him to pull up next to it. But I couldn't get through to him so... we went off and did donuts at Turn 1! It was a little bit confusing when he started doing donuts and stuff. He got very close to the wall, no more than two inches. There was loads of smoke and I was waiting for a big 'bifffff' as he hit the wall - or me -- but it didn't happen. The crowd loved it, and the crowd is one of the reasons that the race is such a good event.

The atmosphere going round on the parade lap was incredible. The place was just alive with people jumping up and down, and I'm not even from there It's a wonderful place to race.

Amazingly Vancouver was the time this year that I've even led a lap, yet somehow we're still not far out the championship now, which is incredible. I'm not saying we can win the championship, but if we continue as strongly as we are - we easily had the strongest car at the weekend, and had the measure of everybody -- then I can certainly move up the list.

In the race we had them covered. It was a great weekend from that point, but I'm a bit pissed. I really did want it badly. But it's Laguna next weekend, and we should be strong there. But first there's the small matter of showing Mr Tracy how to party...

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