Callum Ilott will embark on a new challenge this season. The 22-year-old rising star will get his first taste of endurance racing in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS, joining an impressive line-up at series newcomer Iron Lynx.
The Italian outfit will field a pair of Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 entries in the five-round Endurance Cup, with Ilott set to partner Davide Rigon and Antonio Fuoco in the #71 machine. Alongside his GT duties, the Briton will also act as test driver for the Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 team.
We spoke to Ilott about the new adventure and the prospect of making his maiden appearance at the Total 24 Hours of Spa.
You recently completed your first test in the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020. What were your impressions of the car?
“I drove at Mugello during the Iron Lynx launch and it was a good experience. It was different to what I'm used to: a GT car is heavier and has less downforce than a single-seater, but a good amount of power. It was an enjoyable style of driving; you can throw the car around a bit. You have to adapt to the ABS and traction control, but they make it a very accessible car to drive. Obviously, the endurance side of things is completely different and that's something I'll have to get used to in testing.”
What challenges does a driver face when moving between single-seaters and GT cars?
“The biggest thing is the races, because that's what I'm yet to experience. As for the car, there are specific techniques for cornering a GT that are quite different from a single-seater. I'm still figuring that out a little bit, but I think I got the hang of it quite well. The other thing is the downforce, which means the way you approach cornering and braking are different; it's something you feel in the first couple of laps and adjust to. Again, it's an accessible car to drive and I felt quite at home to start having some fun.”
You'll be racing with Iron Lynx, a new addition to our paddock. What do you know about the team and about your new crewmates, Davide and Antonio?
“Iron Lynx have an impressive line-up of cars in a number of championships this year and they were keen to have me involved and to give me an experience on the GT side of things. We've got a good team with Antonio and Davide, and the other car with Nicklas (Nielsen), Alessandro (Pier Guidi) and Côme (Ledogar). It's an impressive squad. They put together a good first test for all of us and I look forward to focussing with them at Circuit Paul Ricard during the official tests. Antonio has already learned (about GT racing) in the past few years and he’s told me what he knows. At Paul Ricard I hope Davide can elaborate on some things, especially for the races, because that's where I need to focus most.”
As part of the programme you'll be tackling the Total 24 Hours of Spa for the first time. What do you know about the event and what aspects of 24-hour racing are you looking forward to?
“It's a big one to go to for my first 24-hour race! It's a great track and a great event with a lot of prestige, so I'm looking forward to it a lot. I'm not sure what to expect. From what I know, having around 60 cars on track will be tough, both in qualifying and the race. Education is very important in this sense. You have to get an idea of what's going on, but being told something is one thing and experiencing it is another. Hopefully the three-hour (Monza) and six-hour (Circuit Paul Ricard) races will give me an idea and a feeling for what I'll experience in a 24-hour race. It's going to be something very different and I'm really up for the challenge.”