Under the California Sun: The Arrow McLaren Team’s Promising Start at the Long Beach Grand Prix

Written by Adrian Beecher

As the sun dawned on the picturesque streets of Long Beach, California, the Arrow McLaren team revved up for what promised to be an electrifying weekend at the 2024 Acura Grand Prix. The team, spearheaded by Pato O’Ward, Alexander Rossi, and rookie Théo Pourchaire, embarked on their practice sessions with a mix of determination and cautious optimism.

Pato O’Ward, in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, set the pace with a blistering lap of 01:06.6874, topping the charts in the first practice session. His performance was not just a demonstration of raw speed but a clear signal of his intentions for the weekend. “This was a really solid start to the weekend for the team,” O’Ward reflected, acknowledging the continuity from last year’s strong pace but also the need for consistency. “It’s about maximizing every opportunity and finding the right direction because of how much the track evolves.”

Alexander Rossi, steering the No. 7 VELO Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, found himself in seventh position with a time of 01:07.1448. Despite not leading the pack, Rossi was upbeat about his initial outing. “It’s good to be back in Long Beach. The car is in the window; I just think we need to fine-tune a couple of things to find a little bit of speed,” Rossi shared, his voice tinged with a mix of excitement and resolve.

For Théo Pourchaire, the No. 6 onsemi Arrow McLaren Chevrolet’s driver, it was a day of firsts. Participating in his inaugural INDYCAR series practice, Pourchaire recorded a 21st place finish with a time of 01:08.2857 over 35 laps. Despite the lower ranking, his enthusiasm was palpable. “Every lap was a learning process for me. The track is tough physically and very bumpy, but the car is very powerful, and I enjoyed driving it a lot,” said Pourchaire, whose performance was hindered by traffic while on Firestone Alternate tires.

Gavin Ward, the Team Principal, expressed satisfaction with the team’s overall performance. “It was a good and very productive session,” he stated. Ward was particularly pleased with O’Ward’s results but reminded everyone that the crowded session’s results could be deceptive. For Rossi, Ward felt confident: “We have a couple things to figure out to unlock a touch more speed, but I think he’s in the mix.” Pourchaire’s debut was a cause for optimism as well, with Ward commending his gradual but steady progress.

As the Arrow McLaren team looks forward to the qualifying rounds and the main event, their start at the Long Beach Grand Prix serves as a testament to their preparedness and potential. With O’Ward setting early benchmarks, Rossi searching for that extra speed, and Pourchaire growing with every lap, the stage is set for a weekend of high stakes and even higher speeds. The team’s journey through this iconic circuit, under the Californian sun, not only tests their machines and strategies but also their spirit and resilience. As the green flag looms, the Arrow McLaren team is poised to transform their promising start into remarkable finishes.

Image Credit: Arrow McClaren

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