Two drivers who followed Callum Ilott during Thursday’s Indianapolis 500 practice session said the Briton is among the bravest people on the Speedway.
With his car understeering into the corners and snapping to oversteer on the way out, the No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevy was horrendous to drive — fighting its pilot on every lap. After making more changes and failing to rectify its ill-handling behavior during a seven-lap outing early Friday afternoon, the team finally decided to make a change of cars for Ilott.
The new chassis he’s been using will be swapped for the chassis teammate Agustin Canapino used during April’s Indy Open Test.
“I don’t think we can get back today, but we think we can put a good race car together for Callum,” Ricardo Juncos told RACER. “Now he’s gonna be in the one we tested in April and was good with Canapino. Unfortunately, by losing Tuesday because of the rain, we thought the car would be so much better when we got out, and it was so much better yesterday, but obviously, it’s too late to make the decision to change. You could ask why we didn’t do this earlier, but we cannot look back. We’ll make this change for safety first. Something is clearly wrong in the car.
As RACER noted during its end-of-day video on Wednesday, an immediate need to switch to a different chassis was evident on Day 1 of on-track activities. The obvious lack of speed with Ilott’s car — the same one that wandered on the straights and behaved like it was possessed by a demon at the Open Test — came after the team spent weeks trying to find and improve any deficiencies in the chassis it pointed to. As the first day of practice confirmed, the majority of the car’s problems remained unsolved, and while Ilott did go faster on Thursday, it required constant heroics to keep the car off of the walls.
Nonetheless, JHR wanted to give the search for comfortable speed one more try and held off on doing the chassis swap until Friday afternoon. The decision leaves the team without any running time of value with high boost, and provided the replacement No. 77 Chevy is ready to go when practice starts at 8:30am, Ilott will be playing from behind while hoping Canapino’s former chassis is a breeze to drive.
“This is a massive undertaking for the mechanics,” Juncos added. “So now I think is the time to do it and we’re gonna try to be as quick as possible and get it on the track tomorrow.”