Callum Ilott secured his maiden single seater victory after triumphing during race two of the season opening round of the FIA European Formula 3 Championship at Paul Ricard on Saturday, but the weekend could have been a much different story for the young Briton.
Ilott was forced to borrow the spare chassis from the ThreeBond with T-Sport team for the weekend, after his own was damaged by a fire on Thursday, and he praised both them and his own Van Amersfoort Racing team for getting him back on track so quickly.
The fire also cost him an engine, meaning he was forced to take a grid penalty for the opening race of the season, but climbed from the rear of the field to finish tenth to secure a point.
“Given how quickly VAR had to put together the new car, strangely it felt surprisingly good,” said Ilott. “Huge thanks to them and T-Sport for getting me back out on track.”
Race two was Ilott’s breakthrough, when he took advantage of a slip-up from then-race leader Nick Cassidy to take the lead, and despite the track becoming slippery due to light rain, he was able to take victory and stand on the top step of the podium for the first time.
“As the rain started to come down I was able to build a gap, and I knew I had the pace,” insisted Ilott. “When the safety car came out, the rain got heavier and I was a bit worried as the track was getting more slippery. My ice driving course this winter came in handy!”
Unfortunately for the Briton, Sunday morning’s final race was disappointing, as Ilott stalled on the grid, and was only able to recover to twelfth by the chequered flag. He looked back at the weekend with mixed feelings, with the win the highest of the highs.
“I didn’t have the right feeling from my clutch on my practice start and when I reacted to it at the actual start I ended up stalling – my fault,” said Ilott. “It was a weekend of highs and lows. From having basically no car on Thursday night to a win on Saturday afternoon was pretty awesome though.
“Looking ahead I’ve got some time on the simulator planned before the Hungaroring race and with exams next month I’ve also got to get some revision done!”