Callum Ilott‘s transition into the NTT IndyCar Series will be completed in 2022. On Friday, ahead of the series’ upcoming Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, Juncos Hollinger Racing announced Ilott will race full-time next season in the #77 Chevrolet.
With a ride in Formula One not turning up, the 2020 FIA Formula 2 Championship runner-up and Scuderia Ferrari test driver elected to take his services to the United States. After testing an IndyCar at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Juncos, Ilott made his début at the Grand Prix of Portland on 12 September, where he quialified nineteenth and finished twenty-fifth after struggling with mechanical trouble.
While Portland was initially intended to be a one-off, his schedule was expanded to include the final two races of the 2021 season at Laguna Seca and Long Beach. In the former, he finished twenty-second and a lap down.
“Coming into the final weekend of our three-race run on the West Coast, it’s great to announce that I will be continuing next year with Juncos Hollinger Racing for the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season,” said Ilott. “Obviously, we have had a steep learning curve here the last few races to try to put everything together. We have had some real positives and know the things we need to work on. Knowing what Ricardo Juncos and Brad Hollinger have in place for next season and especially over the winter of what we can do in testing, I definitely feel we can put ourselves in a great position to start off the 2022 season strong. I look forward to continuing the work that we are doing and heading into the winter to start a new journey over here and I would like to thank the Ferrari Driver Academy for allowing me to take this opportunity.”
Juncos Hollinger Racing, formerly just known as Juncos Racing when Ricardo Juncos was the sole operator, began competing in IndyCar in 2017. After being a part-time operation for the first three years, the team took a year off from 2020 due to COVID-19 before returning with Hollinger and Ilott’s arrivals. 2022 will mark the team’s maiden season as a full-time unit.
“[Callum’s] maturity, speed on track, and feedback is surprisingly good for being 22 years old,” commented Juncos. “We were very impressed with his feedback and the physical condition of Callum after Laguna. After a long tough race at Laguna, he got out of the car not even showing any signs of fatigue. Considering Laguna was a full green flag race, Callum proved to be in incredible shape. We know we are not the fastest car on track and have a lot of developing to do, but Callum pushes himself to get everything out of the car and has shown great speed.
“Over the past few weeks, Callum has shown us he is the right driver for our full-time run next year, so we are thrilled to have him join our programme full time. We will be building our program in all areas and will have the time to test and continue our development as a team. I want to thank Callum for committing to our new NTT IndyCar Series programme and look forward to our full-time effort as a team next year.”
Friday has been a busy day for European formula racers making the switch to IndyCar. Later in the day, Romain Grosjean was announced as a full-timer for Andretti Autosport. Christian Lundgaard, a rival of Ilott’s in Formula 2, and ex-F1 racer Kevin Magnussen also débuted in IndyCar earlier in the year.
“Our goal was to secure a talented driver for the final three races of the 2021 season so that we would have a strong baseline going into a full run in the 2022 season,” Hollinger stated. Hollinger also has European ties as a shareholder in Williams Racing. “Therefore, we were quite happy to have a driver like Callum to work with these final three races. He proved he can perform during the past two races in a variety of areas. Callum has maturity beyond his age and has a very enthusiastic personality. We knew we had the driver we wanted for the 2022 campaign after his strong performance during the Laguna event, particularly during the later stages as his lap times were consistently equal to the ninth- and tenth-car paces.
“I am elated that Callum has chosen Juncos Hollinger Racing to continue his racing career. The continuity this gives us throughout the winter and into next season is invaluable in creating a cohesive winning team. I could not be more excited for the 2022 season and expect we will surprise people during the year with Callum.”