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Barnicoat replaces IndyCar-bound Pourchaire at Autopolis Super Formula round

Team Impul has called in Lexus driver Ben Barnicoat to replace IndyCar-bound Theo Pourchaire for this weekend’s Super Formula race at Autopolis.

Ukyo Sasahara, Ben Barnicoat, VANTELIN TEAM TOM'S

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Barnicoat, the reigning IMSA GTD Pro champion, will take over the cockpit of Impul’s #19 Toyota-powered SF19 following last weekend’s news that Pourchaire will join Arrow McLaren in IndyCar.

The British driver’s appointment only covers the second round of the 2024 Super Formula season on 17-19 May, with Impul yet to decide who will occupy the seat for the remainder of the year.

He will make his Super Formula race debut just six months after testing for TOM’S during last year’s post-season rookie test at Suzuka, where he posted a best time of  1m37.482s, just over a second down on Kamui Kobayashi’s benchmark with KCMG.

Barnicoat, who has focused on sportscar racing in recent years, last competed in single-seater racing in 2020, when he made a handful of outings in Euroformula Open and FIA Formula 3.

Catch every Super Formula race weekend live only at Motorsport.tv

Theo Pourchaire, ITOCHU ENEX TEAM IMPUL

Theo Pourchaire, ITOCHU ENEX TEAM IMPUL

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Sauber Formula 1 driver Pourchaire had originally been due to complete the full Super Formula season with Impul, having made a widely-anticipated move to the Japanese series during the winter after winning the Formula 2 championship at his third attempt.

But following a horrible start to his campaign in Suzuka in March, Pourchaire got the call-up to replace the injured David Malukas at Arrow McLaren for first the Long Beach Event and then the Barber Motorsport Park round.

With the Frenchman impressing the IndyCar arm of McLaren in his first two outings, he secured a contract last week that covers all remaining rounds of the year, barring the Indy 500.

Watch: Super Formula - Suzuka: Pourchaire has an off

The news of his IndyCar deal had already plunged his Super Formula future in doubt, and Tuesday’s announcement effectively confirms that he won’t return to race in Japan this year.

Impul’s decision to replace him with Barnicoat, however, ensures that there still will be one international representative on the grid, at least for the Autopolis round.

There are a number of clashes between Super Formula and IMSA SportsCar Championship this year, ruling out any chance of Barnicoat seeing out the season in the Japanese series.

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