Four-time IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti and team boss Chip Ganassi (below) have been discussing the teething troubles with next year’s new Dallara DW12.
Franchitti and his Ganassi Racing team-mate Scott Dixon have done most of the donkey work on the Honda-powered DW12 development car, but Dario is convinced that IndyCar’s teams will sort out the Dallara as long they are given the room to do the job.
“It’s been fun and a little frustrating too,” said Franchitti of the development work. “I did most of the running on the Honda car in November and Scott did a lot in December. I really enjoyed working with Honda again on the areas we need to get right to be competitive.
“They’re starting to make some progress now. We’re starting to fix the car’s imbalance but it’s important that the series allows us the latitude to adjust the car to suit different driving styles. It’s one thing saying everybody must drive the same stuff, but what they don’t realise is that it’s going to suit certain drivers and hurt others. Hopefully they can come up with an elegant engineering solution to fix the imbalance problem.”
Franchitti has confidence in Will Phillips, IndyCar’s vice-president of technology, who has plenty of experience in engineering Indy and ALMS cars. “I think with Will we’ve got a good guy, he knows his stuff. We can fix the car; we’ve done it before. All the teams have done it.”
Ganassi, a winner of nine CART/IRL/IndyCar team titles, agrees with Franchitti that IndyCar needs to allow the teams room to work. “This is a tall order,” he said. “Everybody has questions about the new car and I think you have to realise it took two or three years to get the car we’ve just retired right. When we were getting new cars every year in CART, they were just evolutions of the previous car. This car is something of a revolution, so it might take a little extra time to get it right for everybody.
“I think IndyCar is keeping an open mind. They’ve said we need to change the testing rules and they seem open to changing [other] things when they need to. We’ve just got to buckle down and get to work on it, which is what we’re doing.
“Having been in the sport a long time you need a dose of reality every once in a while,” added Ganassi. “With a new car they don’t fall off the truck and set lap records right out of the box. It takes a little tweaking sometimes, like every car in the past. Time will tell whether the new rules package and new way of doing things with the car is the right way to go about it.”
Ganassi also paid tribute to IndyCar champion Franchitti following his latest title win, comparing him to previous champions he has run including Jimmy Vasser, Alex Zanardi, Juan Pablo Montoya and current team-mate Dixon.
“Some guys are Friday and Saturday drivers, and some are Sunday drivers,” said Ganassi. “What I mean by that is some guys are better at getting the car ready on Friday and Saturday, and some are just sheer racers. Zanardi had a great ability to transform himself on Saturday night from a mad scientist to an all-out racer and I would say Dario does the same thing.
“But Dario is similar to Vasser in that while he is very cerebral and serious about racing, he also finds time to have a smile or a joke during the weekend. Dario can also put together one lap like Montoya would do from time to time. I’ve said a few times I’m not feeling good as we go into qualifying and all of a sudden he pops up at the top of the chart and you say, ‘Where did that come from?’ So he has that ability like Montoya.
“And like Scott Dixon he understands the whole picture. He gets the job done without much fanfare. So Dario has a little bit of each of those guys in him and I’m sure he has a lot of talents that he picked up from Jackie Stewart when he drove for him.”