Franchitti column columnist Dario Franchitti took his first pole position of the season, but once again his high hopes turned to disappointment at Elkhart Lake, as he tells us here in his regular column

Franchitti column

The Elkhart Lake weekend started off very well for us. The car was quick straight off the bat and we were challenging straight away on Friday.

We felt we had a really good car for the race. In I knew that if I could get the lap, then the time was in the car. I did the time on my last lap,
I knew because I was low on fuel -- I only had enough to make that last lap and my tyres were and starting to lose their edge - that it was my last chance.

Road America is weird because it has such a long lap that the qualifying timing line is at the last corner, so you can actually do your lap and then come straight into the pits.

So going into turn 1 I went in way too quickly, and I got loads of understeer and ran up on the kerb on the exit. So I lost a bit of time there. Then I did the same thing at turn 2, and by then I was two tenths slower than my best lap from the day before. I was going down the big long straight thinking shall I give up the lap as I'd made a bit of a mess of it, But I stuck with it, and pushed hard to the end of the lap, and I really 'peached' the last three corners

When I saw the time on the board and thought "Christ! What's everybody else up to?!" I was expecting P5 or something, not P1.

Elkhart Lake is a track where you can't really chuck the car around, you have to be super smooth, you can't drive over the limit at all, especially in the slower corners. In the fast stuff you can really push it, and you can find more time, and that little bit extra. You can't really carry too much speed in. It's a tricky place.

It was good to see P1, it's been a long time since Australia which was my last pole almost a year ago. It's nice to get a pole, and the point for that.

The race was just frustrating. Tagliani got a really good start. It's such a long straight and he just towed past me up the hill, and away he went. He was very competitive, and we were saving gas, but having said that, he went a lap longer than us, so their fuel consumption seemed better than ours. We were running second which made me pretty happy.

Montoya short filled in the first round of stops to make up places and he just got ahead as we left the pits. It was quite close! He was running full rich with the fuel, while again we were saving it, so he disappeared up the road.

I was in third, but about 10 laps into that stint I started to lose my gears. First I lost third gear, and that's when I went shooting into the escape road, because I didn't have any de-acceleration from the gearbox. So I had to start using second gear in the corners where I'd normally use third, and that hurt the lap time a bit, plus I had to skip through an extra gear in the braking, so I was braking a lot earlier.

Then second gear went as well! I had no drive when I was braking, but when I accelerated it was fine. As soon as I lifted off the power, the drive went. We were still running very lean on the fuel but somehow we were setting competitive lap times, and I was still making up places!

It was a strange situation, in that we couldn't really bring the car in and park it, we just had to keep running and shaking the car to bits, and if we'd hung on for another nine laps or so we'd could have finished fifth or so in the points. So that was a bit frustrating, and eventually we lost all drive and that was that. Another great race!

A lot of people seemed to have gearbox problems last weekend, but that's no consolation. It's frustrating to put it mildly.

My team mate Paul Tracy did a really good job, I think it helped that the front-runners all had problems, but to come from last to win a race is pretty good. And he didn't have any yellows to help him. He was a happy boy afterwards. He ran up gave me a big hug then disappeared off to the airport!

He was testing at St Louis on Tuesday, and I was at Luguna Thursday and Friday. There's no rest for the wicked at the moment. It's a really busy test, pretty much everyone was at Laguna.

I had some great support at Elkhart, in particular there were three guys from Scotland who had made their way out for the race. All weekend they wore kilts at the track, and had flags and so on. They were really good fun, and after it all I met up with them for a drink on Sunday night. It was a shame we didn't have so much to celebrate, but it again reminded me how much people are following the championship, and how I'm doing, from Europe.

The Team Kool Green car is quick enough, as we showed at Mid-Ohio. But I haven't led a bloody lap all year! That statistic almost makes me laugh more than anything, but it does sum up our year.

Nevermind. I'm only interested in leading one lap at each race, and that's the last one!

Herta to replace Carpentier at Forsythe?

Previous article

Herta to replace Carpentier at Forsythe?

Next article

Castroneves sets record pace in testing

Castroneves sets record pace in testing
Load comments
The one-time Schumacher rival rebooting his career Down Under Plus

The one-time Schumacher rival rebooting his career Down Under

Joey Mawson made waves in the middle of the last decade, beating future Haas Formula 1 driver Mick Schumacher - among other highly-rated talents - to the 2016 German F4 title. A run in F1's feeder GP3 category only caused his career to stall, but now back in Australia Mawson's S5000 title success has set that to rights

May 8, 2021
The lesson football’s would-be wreckers could learn from racing Plus

The lesson football’s would-be wreckers could learn from racing

OPINION: The greed-driven push for a European Super League that threatened to tear football apart is collapsing at the seams. Motor racing's equivalent, the football-themed Superleague Formula series of 2008-11, was everything that the proposed ESL never could be

Apr 21, 2021
The F1 and Indy 'nearly man' that found contentment in Japan Plus

The F1 and Indy 'nearly man' that found contentment in Japan

Having had the door to F1 slammed in his face and come within three laps of winning the Indianapolis 500, the collapse of a Peugeot LMP1 shot meant Japan was Bertrand Baguette's last chance of a career. But it's one which he has grasped with both hands

Feb 27, 2021
The female all-rounder who arrived "too early" Plus

The female all-rounder who arrived "too early"

From Formula 3 to truck racing, Dakar and EuroNASCAR via a winning stint in the DTM, there's not much Ellen Lohr hasn't seen in a stellar racing career that highlights the merit in being a generalist. But she believes her career came too early...

Feb 17, 2021
How Radical's latest machines fare on track Plus

How Radical's latest machines fare on track

The lightweight sportscar manufacturer has not rewritten the rulebook with its latest machines, but the new SR3 XX and SR10 still provide a step forward on its previous successful models

Feb 8, 2021
The real-life racing rogues stranger than fiction Plus

The real-life racing rogues stranger than fiction

The forthcoming Netflix film linking the world of underworld crime and motorsport plays on a theme that isn't exactly new. Over the years, several shady figures have attempted to make it in racing before their dubious dealings caught up with them

Jan 31, 2021
How a GP is thriving in a COVID-free territory Plus

How a GP is thriving in a COVID-free territory

The New Zealand Grand Prix's mix of rising talent and big-name stars thrilled the crowds (yes, remember crowds?) assembled for the Toyota Racing Series meeting at Hampton Downs last weekend and left distant observers craving a repeat

Jan 26, 2021
How a much-changed Macau GP kept the party going Plus

How a much-changed Macau GP kept the party going

OPINION: The 67th edition of the Macau Grand Prix might have been a largely muted affair to the outside world without its international influx and star line-ups, another victim to the COVID-19 pandemic, but organisers deserve huge credit for keeping the party going

Nov 24, 2020