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Thursday, 27 April 2017

Callum Ilott: 'Im in the best position I can be and I'll be going for it'

Callum Ilott had a mixed weekend on his first outing with Prema in European F3 at the first round in Silverstone. Going on towards round 2 in Monza, I was lucky enough to pick Ilott's brain on Silverstone and the season to come.

Ilott scooped up a win at Silverstone in front of his home crowd. Showing how quickly he is settling in with Prema and they are proving to be a strong partnership together. Ilott informed me he had been lucky enough to spend a lot of time with Rene the team principal and the rest of the members of the team. Getting the right relationship with Prema is 'critical' with the italian team and Ilott himself said his transition into the team has been 'smooth'. If his win is anything to go by then he is being true to his word. A win is not just a driver but the team as well and Ilott has clearly worked closely with everyone in Prema to be fighting for points in every race. But there can be nothing more reassuring that everything is going smoothy than a win in the first round. Ilott said himself 'getting a win in our first weekend was the perfect way for me to say thanks to them!' Especially after going off at turn 1 in one of the races, Ilott was disappointed but with the team they regrouped and came back strong and fought for a well earned and deserved win.

 Ilott is a strong driver and Prema is a strong team so the two together are going to be mighty. Although Ilott was quick to give credit to Joel Erikson having a good year after looking at him post silverstone. Lando Norris was also named as someone to look out for as both Norris and Ilott are in their third seasons and has the 'race experience to have a strong year'. Backed up by Norris' win at silverstone. These two are evenly matched if you look at experience they both have within F3 and with both achieving wins, things look set to be tight. Ilott also name Maxi Gunther and Jake Hughes so maybe they may be a couple of dark horses but both are talented. Luckily for Ilott since himself and Gunther are team mates Ilott can keep a close eye on him, but I'm sure it will be friendly rivalry and they will share data and compare notes. 

Ilott's last win was at the Red Bull Ring and Ilott admitted it 'seemed like ages ago' and he hopes it will not be too long until the next one and he wants to be up on the top step a few more times this season. We all know what drivers are like when they say they want something, they keep fighting and work hard and they usually do achieve what they set out to do. Ilott was lucky enough that he doesn't race very much in the UK now and it gave his family a chance to come down to watch him race. Something which I am sure helped his confidence, knowing his family were there supporting him and keeping his spirits up. He even told me one of his young nephews came and sat on the car just before friday qualifying. Who knows maybe thats a good omen? 

Ilott has raced for three teams now and each team have all had their own way of doing things. He 'really likes the organisation and support' he gets as a driver with Prema and that must be something very important. Prema seems to have a good hook up with everyone knowing what role they play and what they have to do whether thats back at base or trackside. Ilott used to kart in Italy and he said he really likes the 'italian family feel'. Seems as though it is all working out very good for Ilott and Prema. 

'Rene knows what it takes to deliver a championship and I respect that experience enormously' The aim is clearly set as Ilott fighting for the championship and potentially becoming champion. Even though the field is inevitably filled with skilled drivers, Ilott and Prema will try their very hardest to make the championship a reality. There is no doubt in my mind this may very well happen. 

Now all that is left to do is to wish Ilott and the rest of Prema good luck for Monza and the rest of the season and I look forward to watching them race for the championship.Who knows, maybe the picture below is of the European F3 2017 championship winning car!

Friday, 21 April 2017

What got me into motorsport?

You may remember a blog post a while ago of why I like motorsport but I thought I would go a bit (well actually a a lot) more depth into why by explaining how I got into motorsport. I knew what F1 was and a few other motorsport categories like BTCC. I went when I was young to BTCC and I remember someone had a black star wars livery and there was a female driver and I tried so so so hard to find her and get her autograph. Sadly I didn't get it and I don't remember her name but those two memories have always stuck in my mind. My dad and brother watched F1 and my brother was really into it, I use to watch the first lap and that was it or enter the room when it was the middle of the race. It wasn't until 2014 when I was going through a really rough patch of depression and I needed something to focus on and look forward to. It was one of the last races of the season and on that day it crashed into me. I could watch F1 and learn about it and I would have something positive to keep me going.

I remember during the winter break learning what I could about the teams, the tracks and the drivers and who they were driving for. I couldn't wait for Sauber to announce their final driver, I remember that going on over new years as well. There was an evident change in me which was clear for people to see. I had something I could put my heart and soul into. It was an escape from what I was coping with and what I still cope with. However, it filled a void in my heart I didn't know there was. It became a massive part of who I was. Now after all these years, it is who I am. I enjoy writing, always have and when someone suggested I paired that with motorsport, it clicked. All the pieces in the puzzle fell into place in my mind. A motorsport journalist was something I would be reasonably decent at, I'd enjoy writing and I'd enjoy the subject I was writing about. I then spent the next few years putting pressure on myself to get there. Not helping my mental state at all, doing the opposite really. Until about 6 months ago. I left education after sixth form coming up to a year ago now. I looked at uni for journalism and applied but after applying I really got thinking about what would be best for me. I hated education, I wasn't dedicated to that and it took a massive toll on my mental health and I didn't want to put myself through that for another 3 years. Also, I felt it wouldn't suit me and I'd be better off taking another route. After months I made my decision, take a gap year and if I didn't find a good apprenticeship or anything like that then I would go uni. However, I did not get the best grades and my second choice rung up and told me they had places left but I said no. Just because they could not hold a place for me for a year and it wouldn't be fair when I still might change my mind again and not want to go then. So that was it, I was not going university.

I have a job, good friends, I enjoy my blog and I am doing things I wouldn't have had the chance to do some of the things I have been able to do. I had the opportunity with Dare to be different to go to the Autosport offices. I went to the Autosport show in January. Went to BTCC media day and interviewed drivers! And many more. I did doubt my decision but I know it will all pay off and I will get where I want to be in my own time, in my own way. Yes I have days where my depression does get the better of me and I lose motivation and feel horrible but I remember how I feel at a race track and how I've felt when I've done those incredible things.

Motorsport is who I am, it has saved me, it has created me, given me dreams and motivation. Things I had never felt before. I will be eternally grateful for motorsport. I do not ever want to think about where I would be without it in my life. It makes me and keeps me strong. It has given me everything.

I am at home at a race track and/or watching a race. I cannot describe the exact feeling. Motorsport changed my life and I fell in love with it. Not the nicest story about how people get into motorsport but its my story and I am weirdly grateful it happened how it did. Besides, its not about the start, its about what you do and what you make it. And I will make it to where I want to be and the story will continue and I will improve.

Also, I am sorry for the lack of post's recently, been busy and planning a lot of things. Keep your eyes out, there are exciting things in the works for this blog and its content. 

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

BTCC season opener: Cars, crashes and crowds

BTCC kicked off last weekend at Brands Hatch with the Indy circuit. I wasn't originally planning on going until I noticed I had the day off. After that the tickets were booked! 

Arriving at the track I was beyond excited. Hearing car's roar and fans cheering was something I have dearly missed. That feeling when you're at a race track is unlike no other. And for any of the races I had the pleasure of watching the adrenaline rush as the drivers are all gearing up for lights out was immense every single race. Reminded me even more why I love racing. But a track feels like home. My happy place.

Me and Lisa (who luckily likes motorsport too) managed to plonk our bums by the fence along the pit straight opposite Jake Hill's garage. I could also very clearly see both Eurotech garages, Aiden Moffat and Dan Lloyd and a few others. Unfortunately I couldn't see Andrew Jordan's, which is quite funny when I was kitted out with a Pirtek coat and hat. It was such a good spot to watch all the races. Could see important corners and watched how well cars got off the start line. For the first race Senna Proctor was directly in front of me. After the warm up laps I noticed Proctor did not start on the line, he was behind it by a fair bit. This is to be expected for a rookie in his first race, this is just something that comes down to experience.

For me and the teams  I support it was not the best BTCC wise. However, they always came out fighting. I admire Jeff Smith immensely. I watched him get out of his car after retiring during race 1, it was clear to see he was angry and upset. However, that did not stop him from going out there in the last two races and giving it his all. Must also say well done to Laser Tools for getting Aiden Moffat out for race 3 after seeing  the damage sustained in race 2. Although saying that Andrew Jordan won race 3  and that was a highlight of the day for me. I was a proud girl wearing my Pirtek/AJ  merchandise. That proud-ness was already fulfilled by Jamie Caroline winning his F4 race. I have followed him for a few years now and its amazing to see him doing so well and watching him go out there and win. Watch out for the up and coming Jamie Caroline. Near the end of the day it was time for Ginetta GT and I was supporting Jack Mitchell and Ben Green. Both names I have been aware of for a long time. It was a mixed race. Started off with both drivers doing extremely well. Jacks leading and Ben is coming up and over taking. The commentators are talking about Ben saying how well he is doing and to watch out for him throughout the season when Ben gets unlucky and is caught up in a crash and goes into the tyre barrier in front of me. It was heartbreaking to see, both cars involved were smashed up at the front and sides. I know all these drivers will only get better. Its the first race weekend of the season, there is lots of time to improve and win.

It was lovely weather, races were action packed, not as crowded as I anticipated. My one regret is that we did not leave early enough and get there in time for the pit walk. I wasn't that bothered at the time but I do regret that, even if it would have meant I got up a lot earlier. It was such a cracking day and I am so glad I had the opportunity to go and I took it. Sadly I am unable to go now until Snetterton. I am looking forward to that though, camping again with a better tent, with Lisa, Gemma and Hannah, the four of us back together once again! Who knows, maybe on the saturday night we will go on the track again. However, until then I shall be supporting from the comfort of my sofa. There was no screens that I could see which was disappointing but its a small track so we didn't miss much. Plus I get a tad more information at home than at the track.

I am so grateful and feel so lucky I went and have plans to go to more. I love BTCC and the other races, the prices, the sounds, the people, not only the crowd but teams and drivers as well. If you ever have the chance to go, do! You will not regret it  I promise.