Pourchaire McLaren’s only shining star in Detroit GP qualifying

Pato O’Ward was infuriated for being sent out in the closing moments of qualifying with a brake fire. He ultimately messed up and stalled his car while trying to let a flying Kyle Kirkwood by and was relegated to starting 12th for Sunday’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.

Teammate Alexander Rossi was infuriated after being held up while attempting to set a fast lap—as were many drivers—and climbed from his car farther back with a frustrated 17th in the starting order.

Only NTT IndyCar Series neophyte Theo Pourchaire was happy within the Arrow McLaren team as the young Frenchman, on his debut at the bumpiest and most unforgiving track on the IndyCar calendar, led the program with a fine run to seventh.


The reigning Formula 2 champion has never experienced a circuit like the wavy 1.6-mile course set on city streets in Motown, but that didn’t stop the 20-year-old from being McLaren’s best when it mattered on Saturday.

“In the Formula 1 calendar, you don’t have any tracks like this because all the tracks have to be really smooth for Formula 1; Formula 2 [too], but especially Formula 1,” Pourchaire told RACER. “The IndyCar [chassis] is solid. The car is very, very solid. On this type of track, it’s really good to drive. You have to fight the car every moment, even in the straight line. It feels not 100-percent under control because there are so many bumps, and cars always have one wheel in the air. It’s crazy to think about, but it’s amazing to drive. I love it.”

Barring a nose-first hit to close the second practice session, Pourchaire has been quick and under control all weekend in the No. 6 Chevy.

“It was a nice start to the weekend, yesterday in practice one, just learning the track and getting used to everything again,” he said after last driving the car at the Indy Grand Prix. “Then in practice two, we made a big step forward with the with the car setup. Overall, really happy about the performance today from practice to qualifying. I think we could have ended up in the Fast Six, but it’s good. We are making progress.”

Story originally appeared on Racer