Franchitti'S cops Montreal title; leads ten-car Lola train in premiere run at F1 circuit. In an 80-lap dash on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Dario Franchitti gained victory in the inaugural Molson Indy Montreal, his ...
Franchitti'S cops Montreal title; leads ten-car Lola train in premiere run at F1 circuit.
In an 80-lap dash on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Dario Franchitti gained victory in the inaugural Molson Indy Montreal, his #27 Team KOOL Green Lola/Honda giving Lola its 117th win in the CART FedEx Championship Series. The Scot led the most laps (43) around the 2.709-mile permanent road course on the Ile Notre Dame in front of 74,000 enthusiastic fans who enjoyed sunny skies and 81-82 air temperatures (track temps ranged from 92-105 degrees). Franchitti led Cristiano da Matta's #6 Havoline Lola/Toyota by 2.588-seconds to the flags, after the point leader chose alternate pit stop strategy early in the race. Tony Kanaan took third place in the #10 Pioneer/WorldCom Lola/Honda, 4.612-seconds behind the leader.
"Races like today's are always fun, when you fight for a win with someone like Cristiano," Franchitti noted. "Our strategy was better and it worked for us. What a great team effort! We got the car right just before final qualifying and I was able to attack on every lap." Da Matta's team elected to bring him in on lap 12, when the second caution was called. "I had fun today and I drove extremely hard all race long. Our strategy had a chance of working," he said. Kanaan's third place came "with a consistent car. Our strategy paid off and we pushed hard all race." At mid-race, he broke a header and subsequently lost his clutch, "so I didn't want that last yellow (on lap 70). This track is so fast. It takes a lot out of the car, so you need to save it, like Surfers Paradise. I wasn't having fun this weekend until race time," after qualifying 13th.
Fourth went to Paul Tracy's #26 Team KOOL Green Lola/Honda, whose race-long battle with Kanaan and the #8 Shell Lola/Ford of Jimmy Vasser was a competitive highlight for the day. "I got the most out of the car handling-wise, but couldn't get the mileage," Tracy said. Vasser was pleased by the improvements his team made. "We could smell a podium today but the race just didn't flow right for us." Michel Jourdain Jr. took 6th in the #9 Gigante Lola/Ford, calling it "a very long, tough day." Christian Fittipaldi, despite a stop on the pace lap in his #11 Lilly Lola/Toyota, finished 7th overcoming gearchange problems. After starting 18th, Michael Andretti brought the #39 Motorola Lola/Honda home 8th, followed by Shinji Nakano in the #52 Alpine/Mitsuba Lola/Honda and Scott Dixon's #44 Target Lola/Toyota.
The Champ Cars now travel west to the Mile High City, and will race around Denver, Colorado's Pepsi Center next Sunday, September 1st in the Grand Prix of Denver.