IndyCar: Day 2 Rookie Interviews

Callum Ilott, driver of the Juncos Hollinger Racing number 77 entry, had the chance to run three races in an IndyCar last season with his new team.  Having finished second in the Formula 2 Championship, Ilott became a Formula One reserve driver and drove in two races before coming to America and running with Ricardo Juncos’ team for the final three races in the 2021 IndyCar season.

AR1 spoke with the British driver after the practice session this morning.  Ilott was asked how the session was.  “I made a bit of improvement compared to yesterday.  We still have a bit of work to do.  It was just busy, all the red flags and all sorts of people stopping.  Makes it difficult to go out there.  I think the track is actually quite grippy and that encourages more pushing.”

“The end of last year I got a feeling for the car.  This year, I am full time with the team.  It is a bit more all together organized.  So far, it is just learning and building up.  The tracks are all new to me and for the team.  Obviously not easy for me.  We have a lot of work for a one car team but we are getting there.”

“I had two days of testing in Sebring.  It was bumpy and small. For sure it helps me prepare for St Pete, but when you come to a road course you still have a lot of references that you have to build.  It is quite a different feeling.  In terms of setup, it definitely put us in a much better direction.”

“This is a discovery process.  I still have not driven on any ovals yet.  That will be an experience for me.  And that would be the main difference from F2 and F1.  Otherwise, it is just a slightly different organization but the same principal.  The fans do not get a lot of access in F1, I like having the fans come up to me here.  I would have loved to have been able to be up close to the race cars when I was little.”


Tatiana Calderón Photo credit of AJ Foyt Racing

Tatiana Calderon, driver of the AJ Foyt number # 11 entry, also had a crazy practice session today.  The 28 year old Columbian has driven in Formula 3, GP3 and was a test driver in Formula One for the  Alfa Romero team.  Calderon had one day to shake down her IndyCar in January and two days of testing in February in Sebring with all the other teams.

“Today was a very messy session with a lot of red flags.  It doesn’t help when you are learning.  I think I am learning the track.  I did three laps on the red (alternative) tires and they came in much quicker, which is good.  Then it was about finding the gap and explore the extra traction from those tires.”

“The Sebring test was good for me because at least I got a feel for the car and the bumps and a little bit of high fuel running.  This place is very different anyway.  It grips up and you got to catch up with that.  It is not going to be easy on the track.   The more rhythm I get, the better I will get.  It will be physically tough during the race for pretty much everybody.  The first race is always a big test. So far I feel OK and that is good news.”


Lucille Dust reporting live from St Pete

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