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Podium success for Ilott on GP3 debut

 

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Barcelona – Ferrari Academy Driver Callum Ilott kicked off his 2018 season with a podium on his debut in the GP3 Series Championship

Ilott, racing for the first time for ART Grand Prix, took a third place in Saturday’s Feature race; the curtain-raiser to the FIA F1 race weekend at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.  Combined with a seventh place in Sunday’s wet sprint race, Ilott now sits fourth in the championship.

“Coming into the weekend, my goals were to learn as much as possible about the car in race conditions, whilst banking the points,” says Ilott. “To finish my first main feature race on the podium, first-time out was a good feeling.”

Ilott, who made a good getaway from fourth, had moved up to third on the first lap and then proceeded to hunt down his team mate Hubert. Having closed the gap, Ilott passed Hubert on lap 12 to take second place on the run down to the first corner.

 

“Once I  moved up to third, I focused on consistently closing the gap on Anthoine and with DRS and maybe using slightly more of the tyres in the first half of the race, I closed in and passed him.  The tyres did drop off just at the end, so it became a little harder for me, and Anthoine regained the place,” explains Ilott. “But it was good clean racing which is what it’s all about and we both enjoyed the tussle. I learned a lot about the tyres and working with the dirty air behind a car in a race setting, which is a big contrast to when you are testing.”

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“A podium for my first race is a solid start to the season and hopefully I can show more of my true pace next time out.”

Sunday’s reverse grid race saw the drivers face mixed tracks conditions and Ilott got away well from the lights on the greasy track. “The wet sprint race was always going to be more challenging with me not yet knowing how the GP3 car behaves in those wet race conditions,” explains Ilott. “In hindsight I should have pushed harder initially.  The plan to save the tyres for a later push backfired unfortunately, what with the multiple safety cars. Then the combination of the set up and the rapidly drying track meant I just didn’t have the traction at the end of the race. There are definitely things I would have done differently, but the key is to learn from the mistakes and build from here.”

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“There’s lots more to come as I build my knowledge of the GP3 car and it’s a long season ahead,” says Ilott. “It’s good to finally be back racing after such a long winter. The tracks we have coming up next are where I have won before and plan to do so again.”

The next round of the series will again support the FIA F1 World Championship and take place at Paul Ricard in France next month.

Strakka Racing aims to ‘takeaway’ points at Shanghai

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With just 12 hours of racing left in the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship season, Strakka Racing hopes that by building on its pace from Fuji, the team can claim a top-five spot in the points standings at Shanghai.

Long straights and technical medium-speed sections highlight the 5.4km circuit at Jiading, a venue opened in 2004 at which Strakka Racing has only raced once before – finishing sixth overall in the inaugural WEC season back in 2012.

The points situation in the LMP2 Teams’ Championship is extremely tight with just two rounds remaining. A strong points haul at Shanghai could see eighth-placed Strakka Racing climb as high as fourth in the class with just 11 points separating it and fourth in the standings.

“We’re improving every time we go out with the Gibson,” says driver Jonny Kane. “I think a good result here will give us a lot to fight for when we head to the series’ finale at Bahrain. The whole team is motivated to finish above ESM, Sard and Alpine in the standings and it would be a massive achievement for us to do that after the year we’ve had.”

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One of the newer Hermann Tilke tracks that’s proved to be popular with drivers, the Shanghai International Circuit has hosted the Chinese round of the World Endurance Championship in each of its first four seasons. Its unique layout inspired by the Chinese character Shang (上), the first character in the name of the city Shanghai – has nonetheless proved very tough to master.

“It’s a really tricky track to set up a car for,” adds team principal Dan Walmsley. “The first corner is so tough on the drivers and requires a lot of downforce to get round quickly. Then there’s the lengthy back-straight into its famous hairpin. It’s a prime overtaking spot, but if the drivers misjudge the braking point, it can completely ruin their lap.”

The WEC race weekend at the circuit runs from the 30th of October to the 1st of November, with the race starting at 11am local time on Sunday.

Strakka Racing to run Lewis Williamson at FIA WEC Rookie Test

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Scot Lewis Williamson is set to drive Strakka Racing’s Gibson 015S at the official FIA WEC Rookie Test next month in Bahrain. Williamson, a former McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner is also a key part of Strakka Performance, the team’s driver development programme is looking forward to his first proper sports car test. “I have proper opportunity to show sports car teams what I can do at this test,” says Williamson. “After not racing last year, I want to prove where I am performance-wise. The Gibson 015S has more downforce than I’ve been used to but I have some sim sessions planned to make the most of the test. Sports car racing is where I want to be. Thanks to Strakka Racing I have a chance to show what I can do!”

“Lewis has demonstrated real maturity and has been a true asset for Strakka Performance in the last year,” adds team principal Dan Walmsley. “Inside and outside the car and through the support he provides to all the drivers on our development programmes, he has shown true professionalism and it’s great that Strakka is able to give him his first proper sports car test.”

Strakka Racing is planning to announce next week another driver to share duties during the Rookie test.