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McLaren keeps Pourchaire in IndyCar line-up for a second race

by Ida Wood

Photo: James Black

Theo Pourchaire will remain part of McLaren’s IndyCar line-up for this weekend’s race at Barber Motorsports Park after making his debut in last weekend’s Long Beach Grand Prix.

The reigning Formula 2 champion and Kick Sauber Formula 1 reserve driver was called by McLaren two weeks ago to see if he would be interested in substituting for the injured David Malukas, and an agreement was quickly made.

That left enough time for Pourchaire to be booked in on an IndyCar simulator before his debut, but he did not get to sit in a real car until the first practice session in Long Beach.

He was 1.5983 seconds off the pace in that session, down in 21st place, but improved as the weekend went on. Pourchaire was 19th in FP2, then 0.8213s off the top in his qualifying group which put him 22nd on the grid. In the race he ran as high as seventh, and eventually finished 11th.

With Malukas not fully recovered from hand surgery, Pourchaire’s performances in Long Beach were enough to convince McLaren that he merits a second IndyCar start.

Pourchaire’s primary racing programme this year is Super Formula, where he is racing for Team Impul. He qualified 16th and finished 18th on his debut there, and the second round of the season is on May 17-19. He will be needed on reserve duty at Sauber before then, as the Miami Grand Prix is on May 3-5.

There is no calendar clash with F1 or SF for the following IndyCar round on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course, as that takes place on May 11. However Malukas is expected to be recovered by then and therefore a substitute is unlikely to be required.