Frankly Franchitti

I really like coming to Japan, the Motegi facilities are really something, and the fans really get behind you, so it's a great event. I'm quite a fan of James Bond, and arriving at Motegi always makes me think that we're at the villain's HQ - you're in the middle of nowhere, and just as you drive up this country road there's suddenly this great hi-tech facility in front of you!

Frankly Franchitti

As I said, the fans are great, and in particular myself and my Team Green team mates Paul Tracy and Michael Andretti seemed to have a lot of support. Unfortunately we didn't give them much to cheer on race day. It's also Honda's home event, which makes it an important race for us at Team Green. I finished second there last year, and it's a track that I always seem to be pretty competitive on. We were good in practice, and on Saturday morning we were fastest with a lap of 216.672mph. The conditions had changed for qualifying, and while we made a few changes to the car, they weren't quite enough.

I did a 214.413mph lap which put me to the top of the list. But there were still a lot of other guys to go, so I didn't think the time would be enough to keep pole. We'd changed the car to suit the conditions, but it still understeered a little bit too much through turns three and four. The car had definitely been better in the morning. Then no-one seemed to be able to beat the time until Helio [Castroneves] came out and grabbed pole. The only other driver who went quicker was Gil [de Ferran], but they disallowed his time for speeding in the pits, so I ended up second. The front row is a great place to start I guess, but we could have had more. Still it's a long race, and passing is fairly easy.

We were happy with the car in race trim. The conditions change a lot, so you've just got to stay with it and make the right changes and adjustments that you can during the race. The engineers keep on top of it, monitoring tyre pressures, front wing, and sometimes the rear wing, which you can adjust during the stops. And then there's the tools that I have in the car, roll-bars and weight-jacker which can make a difference.

I lost out to Helio on the start, he was weaving a little bit, which you're not supposed to do, but after that it was just a case of staying out of trouble, looking after the car and keeping an eye on the fuel.

I was fourth after the first stops, and a little bit behind the leading group. I quickly caught that up, as it was important to stay in touch with them. Towards the end of that stint, the car was very good and I was able to pass Tony [Kanaan], Helio and Kenny [Brack] to get into the lead. As soon as I'd done that it was time to pit again, so I didn't have much time to savour the moment!

I had just passed Gil when suddenly that was that. There was no warning, it just let go going into Turn 1. It started sounding bad, so I got out of the power and came into the pits. It was a broken header, which was a shame as we'd been getting good power from the engine, and the car was good.

Unfortunately neither of my Team Green team mates made it to the finish either, so it was a long way to travel for little reward.

We have a week off, then it's off to the mile oval at Milwaukee. I was sixth there last year, so we'll be hoping to do better than that this time around.


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