IRL: Wheldon replaces injured Franchitti at Motegi

IRL: Wheldon replaces injured Franchitti at Motegi

Indianapolis, Ind. (April 7, 2003) - Andretti Green Racing's Dario Franchitti will be unable to compete in the Indy Racing League event at Twin Ring Motegi on April 11-13 as the result of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident last week. Dan...

Indianapolis, Ind. (April 7, 2003) - Andretti Green Racing's Dario Franchitti will be unable to compete in the Indy Racing League event at Twin Ring Motegi on April 11-13 as the result of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident last week. Dan Wheldon will replace Franchitti in the #27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola Dallara-Honda at Twin Ring Motegi.

Dario Franchitti.
Photo by Kenneth Plotkin.
Franchitti's injury consists of a slight fracture of the L1 vertebra. Dario, who makes his home in Nashville but was born and raised near Edinburgh, Scotland, was visiting his family en route to Japan and was riding his MV Agusta motorcycle at the time of the accident.

"The motorcycle had a mechanical problem," said Franchitti. "I tried to slow down but, of course, that was a bit difficult under the circumstances and I wound-up crashing through a hedge and landing on my back."

Franchitti was taken by ambulance to St. John's Hospital in Edinburgh for treatment and x-rays, and spent Friday night in the hospital. Subsequently, an MRI was conducted at Ross Hall Hospital in Glasgow which revealed what Colin C. Mainds, F.R.C.S. termed "an anterior stable compression fracture of the L1" vertebra with "no posterior injury or canal compromise."

"This is the first time in 19 years of racing that I've missed an event due to injury," says Franchitti, "and I'm terribly disappointed to miss the Twin Ring Motegi race. I've always enjoyed racing at Twin Ring Motegi. It's a sensational race track and a world class facility, and my Japanese fans have always been very supportive, dating back to the days when I raced touring cars there.

"It's also a very important race for Honda, of course, and I' m sorry I won't be able to be there with my team to get Honda's first win at Twin Ring Motegi. I will have to be satisfied rooting for my teammates at Andretti Green Racing - Dan, Tony Kanaan and Michael Andretti - to get the job done, which I know they are fully capable of doing."

"First and most important I'm glad Dario is okay," said Michael Andretti, AGR owner and driver. "Andretti Green needs him 100% healthy for Indy and the rest of the Indycar season because Dario is a vital part of this team."

Franchitti plans to remain in Scotland until the end of the week, when he will return to Indianapolis. Although he will not drive a race car for two-three weeks, Franchitti fully expects to be ready for the start of practice for the Indianapolis 500 in May.

-AGR-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon