Callum Ilott, Juncos Hollinger, IndyCar, 2021

Ilott feels his IndyCar exit was “premature”


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Callum Ilott says his departure from IndyCar last year after just two seasons in the category felt “premature.”

He spent two full seasons at Juncos Hollinger as the team expanded from a one to two-car entry, but lost his drive at the end of last season. Ilott believes he could have found another drive elsewhere had he learned of the team’s decision sooner.

“From my side, maybe it was premature,” he said. “I obviously did try and stay in the NTT IndyCar series for this year, and I was kind of unsuccessful at making that happen. I very quickly found another seat which just felt right in the World Endurance Championship.

“I think in some ways, it’s a shame that I didn’t quite make a full-time ride work. If things would have happened maybe a bit earlier, I wouldn’t have had a problem. But again, I made something work, so I can’t complain about it at all, I’m super-happy.”

He will return to IndyCar for this weekend’s season opener as a substitute for the injured David Malukas at McLaren.

“It’s life, you have to find the best situation for yourself and work with that, and to be fair, I’m very fortunate to be in a super-competitive seat with Hertz Team Jota and hit the ground running on that, and we’re second in the championship, World Endurance Championship, straight away, which is great.

“To get the ball rolling in the first weekend of IndyCar with Arrow McLaren, I can’t complain. It’s pretty exciting on that side.

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“This opportunity just felt right for me and for the team. It was very convenient to kind of get it working. I think we’re in for a good exciting weekend in St. Pete.”

Ilott will not be able to drive for McLaren if needed in the second round of the IndyCar season at Long Beach in April, as it takes place on the same weekend as WEC’s Six Hours of Imola. However he is keen to continue racing in IndyCar if other opportunities come up.

“It’s convenient that the series only has seven or eight races, so it’s not too strenuous on that side. It’s just a lot of travel. I think the calculation I did at the beginning of the year was the possibility to make 11 or 12 IndyCar races if I had to. Of course that’s a lot of traveling for me to do.

“I’m just going to see what’s convenient on that side. If I have to do 11, 12, that’s what I’ll have to do. If I can manage with three, four, five, that’s what I’ll do, as well. I’m just playing it by ear. I don’t think I expected to go to St. Pete about a month ago, so now that’s happening, and I can’t complain.”

He already intended to seek a return to the series before the chance to replace Malukas appeared. “It kind of came a bit earlier than I expected.

“I did think about turning up to St. Pete and then the [Indianapolis] 500 and a couple of other little ones and see what happens. But of course I’m jumping in a car in the first race of the season, and a very competitive car as it is.

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“After this, I don’t know, I might take a little break as I’ve got some WEC stuff coming up, and then we gear up for Le Mans. I think I can make the 500, as well.”

However he admits finding a place in the 33-car field for May’s Indy 500 is “going to be tough – I think those filled up quite quickly.”

Ilott may have a further opportunity to drive for McLaren in IndyCar’s non-championship round at Thermal Club two weeks after its season-opener.

“It all depends on David,” said Ilott. “You can’t really work to get better, but you’ve got to be in the position to get better, so I hope he recovers as quickly as possible.

“I am available for Thermal, but again, that’s a later point whether we’ll know if that’s the case or not. We’ll see what happens with David and the team and for the future.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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2 comments on “Ilott feels his IndyCar exit was “premature””

  1. isthatglock21
    6th March 2024, 13:36

    Indy is just where the rich British kids go for a bit of relevance when their F1 dreams comes crashing down. It’s rarely ever fruitful & they always return with their tail between their legs. Reminds me of Max Chilton. Lot of these kids need to stop wasting daddies money on an expensive hobby & set themselves up for later life with their own businesses/investments. That in itself if the best that could happen to most racing series, remove the excess easy money glut, force efficiencies & hopefully it will lower costs for less fortunate kids or those backed by teams/investors. As Callum, his daddy has spent decades managing top hedge funds…the kid will be alright.

  2. Good luck!

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