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Pourchaire to continue with Arrow McLaren at Barber

Written by Archie O’Reilly

Sauber Formula 1 Reserve Driver Theo Pourchaire is set to run his second NTT IndyCar Series race in the No.6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet at Barber Motorsports Park this coming weekend after making his debut on the streets of Long Beach.

The reigning FIA Formula 2 champion finished 11th at Long Beach as he deputised for the injured David Malukas, whose recovery from surgery on a dislocated wrist sustained in February is taking longer than expected. Having started in 22nd, Pourchaire was the race’s biggest mover.

“I can tell you IndyCar is amazing,” Pourchaire said post-race, as per IndyCar. “I’m so happy. In my first race, it’s crazy to think about it. I’m a competitor in the first place and we all want to win. But look at the guys in this field, the experience… they’re really good.”

Pourchaire had some existing experience of street course racing, winning at Monaco during his three-year stint in F2. But the bumpy nature of American street courses offer a stark difference. It was a baptism of fire for Pourchaire to step into an Indy car on a tight street circuit without ever having tested the car before.

He did have one session in the simulator but largely had to rely on watching onboards and support from the team, including now-Sporting Director Tony Kanaan. He also spent some time speaking to fellow drivers, including former F2 teammate Christian Lundgaard. Heading into the weekend, the priority was always just to learn.

“Of course, I want to get the best result possible,” Pourchaire said before first hitting the track at Long Beach on Friday. “I’m a competitor. As a racing driver, as a competitor, the only place we all love is to finish first. I mean, I’m realistic, so I just want to give my best.”

Pouchaire was competitive from the outset and finished 21st in the opening practice session, even without having got a clean lap on the faster alternate tyres. He was already visibly getting comfortable with testing the limits and hustling the car, even scraping the wall and, in hand, learning the durability of the Dallara DW12 across practice. 

He was then only half-a-second off teammate Pato O’Ward in the second group of the opening qualifying segment. Sunday’s race saw steady progression through some overtaking moves, learning of how to manage in a race of management, execution of strategy and crucially keeping it clean.

“It’s impressive, for sure,” second-place finisher Colton Herta said. “He’s been doing a good job all weekend. Just to kind of keep it out of the wall is the most important thing. This one of the easier ones, so I think he’s in for a rude awakening for the arms when he gets to Barber. Be interested to see what he has to say about it.”

Widely regarded as one of the most physical tracks on the calendar, Barber will be a further test of Pourchaire’s durability in a race of attrition. He is completely aware of the physical nature of IndyCar but is relishing a challenge that he has spoken of being extremely excited about.

“I’m smiling every day because it’s an amazing opportunity,” he said ahead of Long Beach. And, coming up in Alabama this weekend, he gets another opportunity to start to fulfil his wish of driving “many more races” in IndyCar across his career. 

Callum Ilott, who was in the No.6 car for St. Petersburg, the $1 Million Challenge and the recent Indianapolis Motor Speedway Open Test, was unavailable for Long Beach due to World Endurance Championship (WEC) commitments at Imola. It was likely deemed too quick a turnaround and difficult logistically to prepare the car for Ilott to return for Barber.

Should Malukas still be unfit for the following round, an educated guess would suggest McLaren’s testing of Pourchaire would continue on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course given there is another WEC clash for Ilott.


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