A timeline of the Canapino/Pourchaire story along with a few thoughts

On Sunday’s Lap 60 restart in Detroit, a minor on-track incident has become a major off-track problem.

The No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet of rookie Théo Pourchaire, who took the restart from ninth position, failed to get stopped in the Turn 3 braking zone on cold tires and a damp track, making contact with Agustín Canapino’s No. 78 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet.

In the exchange, which didn’t warrant a yellow, the Argentinian driver lost three spots, dropping to ninth, while the Frenchman continued in eighth.

Pourchaire was penalized for avoidable contact and made to give up three spots for his transgression.

Here is the incident:

What has happened since then is unfortunate and somewhat predictable.

Monday, June 3

On Monday evening, June 3, Arrow McLaren and Juncos Hollinger Racing released a joint statement, which appeared on McLaren.com. 

It said:

The past 24 hours have unfortunately provided our teams with a stark reminder about the necessity for respect and civility in our online interactions. 

Social media allows us to engage with our fans around the world, but it is important that we interact with each other in a respectful and safe environment. We will not tolerate any form of abuse or discrimination, and those participating in such actions are not welcome in our online community and will be blocked. 

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES delivers dynamic action on the racetrack and incredible access for fans, but we must remember that behind the wheel, the pit wall or the monitor, we are all human beings. 

It is vital that we collectively maintain a safe and welcoming community for all involved. 

Arrow McLaren disseminated the statement via: X, Facebook, and Instagram Stories.

Juncos Hollinger Racing shared Arrow McLaren’s post on X and Facebook, but did not post anything directly on their website or from their account.

Not long after the teams issued joint statement was shared, Pourchaire posted the following on social media:

“I’m sad I received so much hate and death threats in the last 24 hours for such a small incident in the Detroit GP. I hope people can understand that we are all humans and we can make mistakes. But it’s not normal to abuse people online.. Please be kind to each other.”

Not long after Pourchaire made that post, Martin Ponte – a former racer and current NTT INDYCAR SERIES commentator in Latin America, quote tweeted the 20-year-old Frenchman, which was quickly liked by Canapino.

“Callum Pourchaire” is linking his former teammate Callum Ilott, who received death threats after the 2023 Long Beach and Laguna Seca races, in which the Argentine faithful saw him as impacting Canapino’s race, with Pourchaire. Ponte, who was a teammate of Canapino’s as recently as the 2019 Top Race V6 Series, was also involved in pitting the Argentinian fanbase against Ilott last year.

Canapino went on to like several responses to Ponte’s post, which according to Google translate, said the following:

  • Nobody threatened to kill him. You can read his tw
  • Show me the Tweets with the threats, I’ve been waiting for them for a year.
  • Threatening death to someone who is 10 thousand km away hahahahahahahaha what you have to read
  • I have never seen 1 death threat against either Callum or Pourchaire, do you have any to show?
  • Emiliano Martinez was threatened for a whole month by Lille and no one even made a fuss.
  • Come on friend, there I kill someone who is on another continent when I barely have enough time to leave the province.

Canapino responded to the last of those, laughing and saying this tweet is great.

Tuesday, June 4

At 7:15 am, Juncos Hollinger Racing came out with their own strong statement in addition to Monday’s joint statement, posting it on their website and across their social media platforms. It said:

Following the racing incident that occurred in Detroit we have seen a rise of online abuse toward our competitors. Abuse, hatred, and harassment in any form is unacceptable. It is not tolerated within the Juncos Hollinger Racing community, and is not representative of who we are as a team.

We are working with those affected to identify the individuals responsible, and any violators of this policy will be blocked from the Juncos Hollinger Racing community.

We are committed to creating a safe and inclusive environment for all, and believe that no one should be made to feel unwelcome. In racing, we will always hold high regard and respect for each other, no matter what happens on track. We expect our fans and community to do the same. As INDYCAR fans, we must all work together to create a community where everyone is treated with respect and kindness.

The team’s statement was followed less than 30 minutes later by a Spanish and English statement from Canapino.

The English portion said:

Of course, I am against abuse and hate. Those who engage in such behavior are certainly not part of our community and are not welcome here.

Also, we Argentines are passionate and euphoric, but that doesn’t mean we should be accused of something we are not. Therefore, I strongly reject being generalized and placed in a category we don’t deserve. 

I have not seen a single death threat directed at those who claim to have received them. From last year to today, no one in their right mind would do such a thing. It’s outrageous to be accused of this so lightly, and I won’t allow it anymore. If anyone did this, THEY ARE NOT PART OF US, and we don’t deserve to be consider this way because of some misfit WE STRONGLY REJECT. 

The majority of our fans are respectful and kind people, whom I deeply support and thank for their continuous support, through good times and bad. 

I constantly receive abuse and hate, and I have learned to live with it as many people do, choosing to ignore it. There’s nothing sadder and more miserable than hiding behind social media to insult others. 

Lastly, I take this opportunity to invite everyone to reconsider and help others reconsider that we must base our actions on respect above all. We are free to express our emotions and feelings, but with respect and tolerance. It’s the best way to evolve and become better as a society.

It didn’t take long for the reactions from Arrow McLaren to come in, with Sporting Director Tony Kanaan chiming in first, saying the following on X:

Next up was McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown, posting the following:

Canapino’s former teammate, who was subject to death threats from the Argentinean driver’s fans last year, wrote:

When asked for comment, INDYCAR issued the following statement later that morning:

No one should be the victim of online abuse or threats. INDYCAR has been in touch with both teams to discuss this matter and made certain where we stand. We all have a responsibility to reinforce a welcoming atmosphere and firmly denounce clear violations of online conduct.

In the early afternoon, Josefna Di Palma, Canapino’s spouse, floated the theory that Canapino was facing all of this backlash only because he was Argentinean.

Thursday, June 6

In Early October 2023, Arrow McLaren and Juncos Hollinger Racing announced a strategic alliance beginning with a commercial and strategic focus while also considering talent development opportunities. 

On June 5, 2024, that alliance was terminated with immediate effect, with Arrow McLaren posting on their social channels and putting the following statement on the McLaren website: 

Arrow McLaren IndyCar Team has terminated its commercial alliance with Juncos Hollinger Racing, effective immediately.

This decision follows actions that occurred earlier this week on social media in regards to an on-track incident at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.

As reflected in the team’s social media community code, Arrow McLaren will not tolerate any form of abuse or discrimination and totally condemns the online abuse directed toward our team and driver.

Soon after Arrow McLaren’s statement, Juncos Hollinger Racing made a respectful statement confirming the breakup of the partnership.

As of today, our starategic partnership with Arrow McLaren has come to a conclusion. We appreciate the time spent with McLaren over the past months. They are a world class organization which we enjoy competing against week in and week out. While the results of the partnership did not mature, we have the upmost respect for them and are confident in the future of Juncos Hollinger Racing.

Just before noon, Di Palma made a post on X, that was reposted by Canapino, before fairly quickly being deleted:

Just after noon, Carbundo TV, an Argentinian motorsports website, posted a story with demands from Canapino. 

Agustin Canapino’s request to McLaren and Theo Pourchaire

Carburando communicated with Agustín Canapino, during the conversation he told how he feels and what he plans to do after the repercussions of the incident with Theo Pourchaire at the IndyCar GP in Detroit.

The above link should take you to the translated version of the story, or you can find the Spanish version here:

El pedido de Agustin Canapino a McLaren y Theo Pourchaire

The main gist of the story is that:

  1. Canapino is afraid of attending the Road America race weekend because of everything that happened.
  2. Capapino is demanding Arrow McLaren and Théo Pourchaire recant everything that they said and what they accused him and Argentines because he will not tolerate this level of discrimination.

Finally, Canapino liked a post on X that said the driver shows honor for Argentina.

Of note: we have been informed that Pourchaire received dozens of over-the-top messages, including multiple death threats, and that the pertinent information has been shared with Juncos Hollinger Racing.

Unfortunately, we doubt this is the last of this saga you’ll hear about from Road America.

Please note that the next portion of this is strictly Steve’s opinion:

A few questions I need answered:

  • Where have team owners Ricardo Juncos and Brad Hollinger been throughout this mess?
  • At what point does INDYCAR take action against Canapino or the team? The sanctioning body has a code of conduct that each participant signs.
  • I know that other drivers will not want to get involved, but when will they decide to take a stand for Pourchaire?

Some spitballing from Steve:

  • Each time Juncos Hollinger Racing issued a strong statement, Canapino immediately responded, walking back or ignoring what that statement said. It feels as if portions of the team are dealing with a rogue driver. I say portions since we have yet to hear from the co-owners.
  • It’s clear that Canapino is playing himself off to be the martyr in this situation. To what end is he and his team playing? Exit Plan? Gaining back lost sponsorship from the Argentinian government?

On my high horse:

I often remind myself that the word fan is short for fanatic, and it’s great for drivers and teams to have passionate fans. However, it is possible to take things too far, which has happened on three occasions now with Canapino.

I understand that fandom in Argentina is different from that in North America. There is a good reason that away fans are banned at all levels of the Argentine Football Association. However, that doesn’t mean over-the-top hate is appropriate in the U.S.A.

My one wish for all types of fans is that they spend more time cheering for the drivers and teams that they love and less time deriding those that they don’t like.