INDIANAPOLIS — Callum Ilott’s lack of speed during Indianapolis 500 practice has resulted in Juncos Hollinger Racing pulling the nuclear option and switching to a new chassis.
The British racer has had trouble getting up to speed since the single day open test in April. Despite multiple component changes on the car, JHR determined that Ilott would not be able to qualify with his current chassis, prompting the team to switch Ilott’s chassis to the one teammate Agustin Canapino used in April’s open test.
In that test, Ilott was slowest on the speed chart, nearly 10 mph slower than Canapino.
“Clearly something is not right, we cannot find the issue,” team co-owner Ricardo Juncos said. “So even from the open test to now, we changed everything else but the chassis itself. Yesterday was a lot better, so we thought we were going to carry on, but today was not even close when we had the power and all this.
“So I feel that we had an option to put this car, which is the one we use in the open test with Agustin (Canapino), and it was absolutely perfect.”
The new tub for Callum Ilott.#Indy500 #IndyCar pic.twitter.com/CTnp9mK8kC
— Christopher DeHarde (@CDeHarde) May 19, 2023
Ilott was in a comfortable window with the chassis he was using, but was not fast enough. When the team tried making the No. 77 Chevrolet faster, the 2020 Formula 2 runner-up did not feel like the car was safe. The team changed nearly everything on the car except for the chassis and nothing worked to make the car go faster. With one car on the entry list not making this year’s 500, there was more pressure on the team to change the chassis.
“I think I have more confidence to qualify with something different than what I was running with,” Ilott said. “I don’t think we would’ve made the race with the car that we were running with, which is why I’m not stressing right now about the change that we’re doing,” Ilott said.
Ilott was conveying the issue to the team, but that issue was not showing up on the data after each session. With Canapino’s chassis from the open test, the biggest issue will be that the bodyfit won’t be all correct, but the mechanics will work on reducing the seams between bodywork panels as much as possible.
While the garage is set to close at 8:00 p.m. ET, IndyCar is working with the team to make sure that they will be able to stay late to continue working, and with a little bit of support.
“I was trying to help, but I think there was more things that they needed to get doing. So once that’s all settled down, I will try and help then,” Ilott said. “Because half of them are British, I’ve got to make some teas, so yeah, I’ll be here with them tonight, maybe go and get some food for them and stuff like that.”
Saturday’s on track sessions start with two half-hour practices split up in two groups. Qualifying will begin at 11:00 a.m. ET and will air on Peacock until 6:00 p.m. ET.