You have to tip your hat to Dario Franchitti and Ryan Hunter-Reay. After acting as pallbearers at Dan Wheldon’s funeral in St Petersburg last Saturday and then flying to Indianapolis to take part in the following day’s memorial service for the Briton, attended by more than 1000 people, the pair were in action at Sebring this week testing the 2012 Dallara Indycar.
Wheldon did the initial testing of the first Honda-powered prototype and the new car will be called the DW in his honour. Further testing has now begun with Chip Ganassi’s team running Honda engines and Team Penske and Andretti Autosport running Ilmor/Chevrolet engines. Franchitti and Hunter-Reay ran at Sebring for two days, Dario aboard one of Ganassi’s cars and Hunter-Reay driving for Andretti-Autosport.
“Right now, I would rather have another couple of weeks,” said Franchitti. “But our job is to do this, so here I am. It’s tough for everybody on the team and for everyone in the IndyCar community. The timing is not good, but if we want to show up next year in the best possible position we have to do this work. I definitely want to do my part.”
Dallara is scheduled to start delivering chassis to other teams in mid-December while the engine manufacturers must homologate their powerplants 30 days before next year’s IndyCar season-opener in St Petersburg, Florida on March 25. “We’re at the beginning of a long development process,” said Dario. “It will be a busy couple of months.”
Again, you have to admire the professionalism of guys like Franchitti and Hunter-Reay for stepping up to do their jobs despite personal grief and concerns about the right way forward for the IndyCar Series.