Agustín Canapino steps down after challenging online abuse

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Agustin Canapino is taking a leave of absence from IndyCar Racing after disputing Theo Pourchaire’s claim that Argentine fans made death threats against the rival driver this week.

Canapino will not race at Road America in Wisconsin this weekend, and Juncos Hollinger Racing replaced him with rookie Nolan Siegel.

“Online abuse is unacceptable and we must ensure our drivers are prepared both mentally and physically when they step into the car,” Brad Hollinger, co-owner of Juncos Hollinger Racing, said in a statement. “We are saddened by the events that led to this scenario.”

The decision comes a day after Arrow McLaren Racing ended its technical and marketing relationship with JHR over the whole fiasco. Pourchaire is the reigning F2 champion who was recently hired by McLaren.

JHR did not specify how much time Canapino will miss.

Pourchaire and Canapino made contact on Sunday on a restart in Detroit that led to an avoidable contact penalty for the Frenchman. Pourchaire, 20, posted on social media on Monday that he was receiving death threats from Canapino fans.

“I am saddened that I have received so many hate and death threats in the last 24 hours for such a small incident during the Detroit GP,” Pourchaire wrote on X. “I hope people understand that we are all human and that we make mistakes But it is not normal to abuse people online.

Arrow McLaren and Juncos Hollinger issued a joint statement on Monday saying they “do not tolerate any form of abuse or discrimination. Those who participate in such actions are not welcome in our online community.”

Canapino, 34, issued his own statement on Tuesday, saying: “Of course I am against abuse and hatred,” but he disputed that his fans had made the death threats against Pourchaire.

“We Argentinians are passionate and euphoric, but that doesn’t mean we should be accused of something we are not,” Canapino said. ‘That is why I strongly reject being generalized and placed in a category that we do not deserve.

“I have not seen a single death threat against those who claim to have received it. From last year to today, no one in their right mind would do something like that. It is outrageous to be accused of this so lightly, and I won.” don’t allow it anymore.”

Canapino’s statement also appeared to offer Pourchaire advice on how to deal with online criticism.

“I receive constant abuse and hatred, and I have learned to live with it, as many people do, and choose to ignore it,” Canapino said. “There is nothing sadder and more miserable than hiding behind social media to insult others.”

Arrow McLaren subsequently announced on Thursday that it has “terminated its commercial alliance with Juncos Hollinger Racing with immediate effect.” The partnership, announced in October, was a technical and marketing alliance designed to help the two teams lean on each other as McLaren helped the smaller Juncos team grow.

Callum Ilott reported last year that he was abused by Canapino fans when the two drivers were Juncos Hollinger Racing teammates. Juncos Hollinger and Ilott parted ways at the end of last season.

This week, Canapino had liked a social media post calling Pourchaire ‘Callum Pourchaire’.

“The increase in online abuse and harassment as a result of this week’s events has led to a very difficult experience for Agustín, the team and the entire IndyCar fanbase, and the safety of Agustín and the rest of the competitors must be first and foremost place into consideration and above all,” Juncos Hollinger Racing said in the statement announcing Canapino’s departure. “Abuse, hatred and harassment in any form are harmful to the sport and we must prioritize the mental and physical well-being of both our drivers and our competition.”

This report used information from The Associated Press.

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