Callum Ilott made sure his championship challenge stayed on track with a pair of clear podium finishes at the challenging and twisty street circuit in Pau, France. Once again the 18 year old had to put a difficult start to the weekend behind him to finish second in the headline Grand Prix de Pau together with a third in the Sunday morning event. The results helped Ilott’s Prema Powerteam to stretch its advantage in the Teams’ championship to 76 points.
After dominating free practice and qualifying on pole for Race One, Ilott was looking for his first ever victory around the tight confines of Pau. A brilliant start saw Ilott seize the lead but an off at the notorious Foch Chicane saw Ilott glance the barrier and immediately retire from the race. “It was gutting,” said Ilott. “I was disappointed with myself for the mistake but with two more races to come, I knew I had to quickly put it behind me and focus on the remaining races.”
Ilott did just that in Races Two and Three. Race Two, held on Sunday morning was a more straightforward affair than Saturday’s first encounter. Starting third and bottled up at the start with no way past the front row, Ilott held that position throughout the race, managing the gap to championship rival Joel Eriksson, who ultimately succumbed to Pau’s barriers, leaving Ilott over six seconds clear of fourth place Harrison Newey.
The final race of the weekend on Sunday afternoon, the Grand Prix de Pau, was held under sunny skies and in warmer temperatures. Ilott again started well from third but had no way past and slotted in behind Lando Norris and team mate Maxi Gunther. After eight laps, Norris crashed out from the lead to leave Prema with a strong 1-2. As the 33 minutes plus one lap counted down and the race entered its mid-phase, Ilott experienced some pressure from Ralf Aron but this was short-lived as Callum fought back to maintain the gap, thus ensuring his second place was secure.
“Despite the disappointment of Race One, I’m pleased that we could turn it around and come away with a pair of podiums,” says Ilott. “As we saw throughout the weekend Pau is unforgiving so second and third places is 33 points for me and but also a good haul for Prema in the Teams’ Championship. This championship is very competitive with four of us right in the mix.”
The championship now moves to Hungary on 17th/18th June.