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Juncos wants teammate for Ilott but seeks quality in second car

Ricardo Juncos says he wants to find a teammate for Callum Ilott in 2023, but his main priority is making sure the extra entry adds quality “because otherwise it can mean the whole program is damaged.”

Callum Ilott, Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet

It was announced today that the Juncos Hollinger Racing-Chevrolet team has taken up its option on incumbent Callum Ilott for the next two seasons, but team founder Ricardo Juncos has admitted the team and Ilott have faced an uphill battle in 2022 as theirs is the only single-entry team on the IndyCar grid.

However, Argentina-born Juncos said that he and team co-owner Brad Hollinger are keen not to just add an entry for the sake of it.

“We're going to prioritize the quality,” said Juncos. “Having one car, you still can perform quite OK. No question the second car will put us to the next level. That's the intention. But, like I said, we need to make sure it is properly first, not just do two cars just because, otherwise can it can mean the whole program is damaged. We're working very hard to see how we're going to put the program together. As of today, we don't know that yet, but that's clearly the way to go…

“[Running just one car] is a huge disadvantage, but it is what it is. We knew from Day 1 what is our situation and we take it. Imagine for Callum, being a rookie without knowing the tracks. We go to Toronto and we were P7, hundredths off P6, 2/10ths from P1. We were the only one with old reds [Firestone alternate compound]. Technically we could be front row. Being the first time, we have nobody to compare to. It's very hard. We are hypothetically comparing to imagination!”

Juncos said the idea of forming a technical alliance – such as Meyer Shank racing has with Andretti Autosport, and Paretta Autosport has with Ed Carpenter Racing – was a consideration as an alternative to doubling in size, but said it was unlikely to happen.

“We entered thinking we going to try to partner with someone on the technical side, but we didn't. We did not have any options,” he said. “I think the way we develop the system we have now today in place, we going to continue doing that. You can say Meyer Shank did it with Andretti, but sometimes that doesn't work either. You can see last weekend [at Iowa]. There are pros and cons. I think we are going to stay alone as we are now going forward. If we can add a second car, I think we're going to be doing our own things.

Asked what he sought from a teammate, Ilott himself said, “I would like someone to teach me what I haven't been taught. Obviously that's a hard one to learn what you don't know. So, yeah, if someone was super experienced and can teach me some stuff on the oval, someone who can develop the team.

“I think they're going to have a tough time competing against me for speed! Otherwise, yeah, help develop the team as much as possible, see what I can get out of them.”

Ilott acknowledged that it’s ovals where he most misses having a teammate, and while he has enjoyed his first taste of short ovals, he’s not so convinced by the bigger speedways.

“I really enjoyed Iowa, I think the speedway stuff, it's a bit different,” said the former Formula 2 ace. “I don't know if I quite like the commitment and the style in a certain sense. I'm still figuring it out… I have a real appreciation for the oval racing. I think there's a lot of technique which I never even thought about before. It's a very different, tough style of racing…

“If I look back to Indy, I think to be honest with a teammate we probably could have avoided that crash. I think there were a couple of factors where if we would have developed a bit more and had a bit more of a target towards some things to think about, it could have helped me, helped the team to not put myself in that position really…

“There's a lot that goes to it. There's a lot of testing, options that you have to go through. Having a teammate not only gives you data as another driver, but you can try twice as much for the setup, see what's wrong or right. Obviously most of the time on a test day you're going through all the things that actually don't work, you find one that works. That can happen twice as quickly.

“On the ovals it will probably teach me the most if we have an experienced teammate who knows what they like from the car on that side. Hopefully I can learn a thing or two on the road and street circuits.”

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