Home Featured McLaren hands IndyCar debut to Theo Pourchaire at Long Beach GP

McLaren hands IndyCar debut to Theo Pourchaire at Long Beach GP

by Ida Wood

Photo: McLaren

McLaren has named reigning Formula 2 champion Theo Pouchaire as the stand-in driver for the injured David Malukas at this weekend’s Long Beach Grand Prix.

Malukas joined McLaren this year for his third IndyCar season, but suffered a fractured hand in a mountain biking accident in February and so far has not been cleared for a return to racing following surgery.

Callum Ilott substituted for him in the season opener and non-championship $1 Million Challenge at The Thermal Club, but is unavailable this weekend due to clashing World Endurance Championship commitments.

Pourchaire is the reserve driver for McLaren’s rival Kick Sauber in Formula 1, and is currently racing in Super Formula for Team Impul. He qualified 16th and finished 18th on his debut at Suzuka last month.

There has been speculation for two weeks that Pourchaire could be debuting in IndyCar after he shared on social media that he was in Indianapolis, where McLaren’s IndyCar squad is based.

“This is an amazing opportunity to drive with such a legendary team in a legendary motorsport series like IndyCar,” said the 20-year-old Frenchman when his IndyCar move became official.

“I’ve watched IndyCar since I was a young kid, and the racing is incredible. I was thrilled to get the call from the team. I’m grateful that Zak [Brown, chairman], Gavin [Ward, team principal] and Tony [Kanaan, sporting director] thought of me for this opportunity and for the team at Sauber to allow me to get on track at Long Beach.

“I am also sorry that the opportunity came as David continues to recover. It’s not going to be an easy task, but I’m ready for it.”

The third round of the IndyCar season takes place at Barber Motorsports Park next week, and McLaren will make an announcement “in due course” about whether Malukas or somebody else will be in its #6 car. For now, it is looking forward to working with Pourchaire for the first time.

“Theo may be an unexpected driver in the IndyCar paddock this season, but we’re excited to see what he can do on the track in Long Beach and are thankful for Sauber in working with us to make it happen,” said team principal Ward.

“He has a strong resume, especially for his young age, and he’s eager to work with us and put his driving to the test this weekend.”