Over the next several weeks there will be a driver review series published starting with the 20th and 19th placed drivers in the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series championship. This will continue until reaching Will Power, the 2022 IndyCar Series champion.
Here, we will focus on Callum Ilott (20th place) and Takuma Sato (19th place).
Callum Ilott’s 2022 IndyCar campaign can be best summarized by being a season of what could have been. The British rookie ran the full season for Juncos Hollinger Racing except for Detroit due to a hand injury from the Indianapolis 500.
Ilott and the team definitely punched above their weight. The single-car team co-owned by Ricardo Juncos and Brad Hollinger had never competed in a full-time IndyCar campaign, but that didn’t stop the team from showing the paddock momentary flashes of pace at different rounds of the championship.
For example, Ilott advanced to the second round of qualifying six times and managed to start on the front row for the season finale. However, for one reason or another, misfortunes happened in races that kept the 2020 Formula 2 runner-up from showing everything he and the team had to the racing world.
Whether it was a spin at Barber Motorsports Park or a mechanical failure at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca or some other gremlin, Ilott didn’t have as many good results as he should have, but change is on the horizon. With a second car announced for JHR in 2023, Ilott will have a teammate to pool resources and the team will no longer be the only single-car team in IndyCar.
Expect a lot more from Ilott in 2023.
Takuma Sato, on the other hand, had a season that he would like to forget. Sato had four retirements from 17 races, finishing in the top five once at WWT Raceway with three other top-10 finishes.
This culminated with Sato finishing 19th in the series points standings, the Japanese racer’s worst finishing position in IndyCar points since his rookie year of 2010. That year, Sato had nine retirements from 17 races with one top-10 finish: a ninth at Edmonton.
This was Sato’s first year with Dale Coyne Racing in their partnership with Rick Ware Racing. The frustrations from Texas, Toronto and Nashville were clear for all to see as Sato was pushed into retirement in all three of those races.
Sato is closer to the end of his career than the beginning and has yet to be confirmed in the No. 51 Honda for 2023. Next year will be Sato’s 14th year of IndyCar competition assuming that he’s back in the car full-time.
In 2022, Sato played the role of a mentor to teammate and Rookie of the Year contender David Malukas. Malukas had a season-best finish of second at WWT Raceway and worked well with the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion.
If Sato is back, he’ll be very hungry to try and earn one more trophy for his trophy case since his last win at the 2020 Indianapolis 500.