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Ilott to sub for Malukas at Arrow McLaren in St. Petersburg

Written by Dan Jones

Credit: Joe Skibinski

Arrow McLaren have confirmed that Callum Ilott will race for the team on the Streets of St. Petersburg, substituting for the injured David Malukas after the Lithuanian-American dislocated his wrist on a mountain biking accident on the 12th February, requiring the 22-year-old to have an extensive recovery program, which has forced him to sit out of the St. Petersburg opener.

Ilott will return to the IndyCar field sooner than expected, after the Brit was dropped by Juncos Hollinger Racing at the end of the 2023 season, replaced by Andretti Global expat, Romain Grosjean. The Brit's time at Juncos marred by several bouts of online abuse following incidents with Argentine teammate, Agustin Canapino, widely believed to be part of the picture into why the Brit departed the team.

Today's announcement follows Ilott's successful test for the team at Homestead International Raceway on the 21st February, as IndyCar's extensive hybrid testing program continues, ahead of a planned roll-out some point after the 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Malukas' McLaren debut will have to wait. Credit: James Black

Malukas' absence from St. Petersburg will be a sore loss, with many excited about his switch to papaya colours in 2024. He remains doubtful for the $1,000,000 Challenge at the Thermal Club, with Malukas' McLaren debut expected to come on the Streets of Long Beach on April 21st.

How will this help Ilott? His shock removal from the IndyCar market in October meant that options were limited for the 25-year-old, making a switch to Jota Porsche in the WEC Hypercar category, with Ilott making his debut in the series on March 3rd with the season-opening 1812 of Qatar, with the round scheduled in Imola on April 21st.

It could give Ilott an avenue back into the fray into 2025. It is expected that Arrow McLaren could expand to four cars, as they move into the factory once occupied by Andretti Autosport. If Ilott impresses, despite not having the same testing levels as others in the field, it could bode well in his bids for a 2025 seat early on in the season. St. Petersburg was a blessing for Ilott last year, avoiding the chaos to claim a career-best fifth place.

It was a memorable outing for Ilott in St. Petersburg last year. Credit: James Black

His opportunity was unexpected, but exclusively speaking to the DIVEBOMB IndyCar Podcast in January, Ilott was looking to take advantage of a situation similar to the one McLaren and Malukas have found themselves in:

"If I don't end up driving straight away - and go there as a kind of reserve, enjoy it, chat to a few people and then see later on. It sounds quite bad, but normally if something happens, it happens around the 500, so it's not a bad place to go as a reserve. Obviously I don't want to gamble on anyone's misfortune, but just looking realistically, as if you're going as a reserve, it's the way it is."

It's not the start to the season either Malukas or McLaren will have wanted, but Callum Ilott provides an excellent stand-in for the team to kick off the 2024 season. Will Malukas' misfortune pave a way to help Ilott return full-time to the series?

It's another factor to add into one of IndyCar's most exciting seasons in recent years, and after a tiresome six month wait since the flag fell at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, IndyCar's return is just around the corner, as the green flag flies on the Streets of St. Petersburg on March 10th.


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