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Pourchaire leaves Super Formula - expands IndyCar role with McLaren

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Reigning Formula 2 champion and current Sauber F1 reserve driver Théo Pourchaire has been signed up to race for Arrow McLaren in 12 of the upcoming 13 events in this year's races in the NTT IndyCar series.

The Frenchman thus permanently replaces David Malukas, who was injured in a pre-season cycling accident and, given the uncertainty of the timing of his eventual return to active duty, was released by Arrow McLaren from his contractual duties.

Callum Ilott originally sat in for Malukas for the season opener at St Petersburg and at the non-championship exhibition event at The Thermal Club, but was committed to racing for Jota Porsche in the World Endurance Championship.

Instead, Pourchaire made his debut for the team at the IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach as a substitute for Malukas and finished in 11th. He then returned for the following round at Barber Motorsport Park.

“I developed a good relationship with the team since I arrived in Indianapolis and right now I have this opportunity to finish the season with them," said Pourchaire. "It’s unbelievable!"

However Pourchaire will not be in the car for IndyCar's tentpole event, the Indianapolis 500, which takes place later this month on the same weekend as the Monaco GP.

©McLaren

It was decided that trying to get to grips with a superspeedway so soon in his Indy career would be too much, too soon for Pourchaire and that he should make his oval-racing debut in Iowa at a double-header event in July instead.

“Indianapolis superspeedway is really quick," the driver explained."It’s the most important race of the year for every team, so I think it’s important to stay calm. I will have the time in the future to do this race, hopefully.

"Two weeks ago I was only here to drive in Long Beach, then I did Barber, then I didn’t know what I was going to do, then I had my first oval test," he noted.

"Ovals are crazy, it’s so fast," Pourchaire said after getting his first taste of driving on an oval at Gateway. "If you do a small mistake it can be really bad. But I enjoyed it.

©McLaren

“At the end I was so tired because I was a bit stressed. I didn’t want to do any mistakes," he said. “You’re driving close to the walls and trying to feel the car.

"I really can’t wait to do my first oval race. It’s going to be new to me but that’s why I’m here in IndyCar: I love it, it’s a great championship.”

As a result of this new opportunity, Pourchaire has formally pulled out of the Japanese Super Formula series in which he made his debut in March at Suzuka with 18th place for the ITOCHU ENEX Team Impul squad.

But the 20-year-old french prodigy has by no means turned his back on hopes of driving in Formula 1 in the future. "I have to thank Sauber: I’m part of the Sauber Academy, and I’m still a reserve driver for them.”

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The post Pourchaire leaves Super Formula - expands IndyCar role with McLaren appeared first on F1i.com.

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