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Dario Franchitti heads down to take in the action on the island

Dario Franchitti heads down to take in the action on the island

Dario Franchitti heads down to take in the action on the island

An exhilarating opening day of Grand Prix action at Phillip Island yesterday gave many onlookers their first taste of the four-stroke MotoGP revolution, and among the doe eyed two-wheeled fans drooling at the power and pace of the new machines was top CART driver Dario Franchitti. The Scotsman took a break from his preparations for the Honda Indy 300 in Queensland next week to visit Phillip Island and get first hand knowledge of a sport he has always admired from afar.

`I love MotoGP and I watch it on television all the time, whether I am in Europe or the States,´ confesses Franchitti, who currently lies third in the American Cart series. `Watching the guys here at Phillip Island has taken my breath away. The speed of the bike in a straight line is incredible, but the way they commit to the corners is just mind-blowing. I have never seen a bike ridden at this speed before and it is terrific.´

The famed paddock atmosphere also impressed Franchitti, who admitted to being slightly star-struck. `It is a lot less hectic then the CART paddock and you can just wander around and bump into legends – it is amazing. I walked around today and saw Barry Sheene, Mick Doohan, Randy Mamola and Kenny Roberts Sr. - all icons in their sport just hanging out. It is great to have the chance to speak to these guys because I have so many questions for them and I am really enjoying myself.´

Franchitti rides a motorcycle himself but concedes that he is unlikely to make the switch to competitive racing. `I wouldn´t want to embarrass myself!´ he laughs. `I know how to drive a car and I enjoy my bike, but I am not very good. I was hoping to go on the two-seater with Randy Mamola but it´s not here. Maybe next year.´

MotoGP, 2002, SKYY VODKA Australian Grand Prix

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