After second in the qualifying race, car issue prevents Ilott from matching pre-race form
Callum Ilott’s strong week in Macau culminated in frustration after a balance issue, only discovered on the warm up of the Macau Grand Prix, prevented the 18 year old from repeating his Qualifying Race podium performance from the day before. Despite a wheel change on the grid, the problem remained, leaving the Hertfordshire driver, who had consistently starred at the challenging street circuit in the previous days, to cross the line in fifth.
Having bagged fastest lap and finished Saturday’s Qualifying Race in second place behind eventual Grand Prix winner Antonio Felix da Costa, Ilott was on the outside of the front row for Sunday’s 63rdMacau Grand Prix. During the warm up lap, Ilott reported significant vibration and the team elected to switch the front left tyre. Unfortunately for Ilott the change didn’t solve the issue and he was left with a car suffering significant understeer. A brilliant start saw Ilott surge into the lead off the line before rivals slipstreamed past on the long straight into Lisboa leaving Ilott down in fifth.
Undaunted and visibly struggling with the balance, Ilott displayed his typical perseverance and deft car control to keep his Dallara away from the walls and by lap three had regained fourth from Japanese Formula 3 champion Kenta Yamashita. Safety car periods kept the front running cars together and with just two laps remaining, Yamashita made the most of the aerodynamic tow to regain the place, positions they held to the finish.
“After the perfect build up and being quick in practice and qualifying, together with yesterday’s fastest lap and the podium, it feels disappointing to come away with just a fifth,” says Ilott. “A car with understeer and the Macau circuit just don’t mix very well. I had a couple of close calls with the barriers and I had to ensure we finished. Not getting on the podium today means I have to come back again next year. When it all comes together, it’s such a rewarding track that gets you buzzing. I love the challenge of it.”
Ilott will now head straight to Abu Dhabi where he is set to test other formulae and announce his plans for 2017. “Macau marks the end of 2016, a year that had its challenges but also saw me gain my first car wins,” adds Ilott. It’s still only my second year in cars so I’m keen to build my experience and this was a good chance to sample both GP2 and GP3 categories. My 2017 preparations start next week!”