Scott McLaughlin has confirmed that IndyCar will remain his primary focus in 2021 ahead of a Bathurst 1000 co-driver slot, if Covid-19 travel restrictions continue.
McLaughlin is widely tipped to race with his former Dick Johnson Racing team in this year’s version of the Supercars endurance event.
However, those plans are up in limbo, with the IndyCar season finale in Long Beach set to go ahead only two weeks before Bathurst.
With arrivals into Australia still required to complete 14 days of managed isolation, there is a risk McLaughlin could miss the event.
But he says that the chance of sitting out this year’s race does not faze him, suggesting that his IndyCar career now takes top priority.
“My plan is to go back and race that race. The problem being they’ve got quarantine periods in Australia, you have 14-day isolation in hotel rooms when you get there,” McLaughlin told Speedwaymedia.com.
“With the calendar now with IndyCar, Long Beach finishes two weeks before Bathurst. My quarantine would end the Monday after [the race].
“So right now, I can’t do it unless something changes on [Supercars’] end. If it does change on their end, [Bathurst] a possibility. I’m scheduled to do it.
“At the end of the day my main focus is here. My main objective is here. So, I’d give up the Bathurst opportunity.”
McLaughlin is one of three rookies on the 2021 IndyCar grid. But he will be the only one to contest the full season.
The other two newcomers are NASCAR-convert Jimmie Johnson and ex-Formula 1 podium finisher Romain Grosjean, two drivers the Kiwi is excited to battle.
“I didn’t think I’d be racing Jimmie Johnson and Romain Grosjean. It’s crazy,” he said.
“Someone put out a tweet, quite a good tweet, the rookie class where it’s like three-time Supercar champion, seven-time NASCAR champion, then a guy who is a veteran of Formula 1 in their first season in IndyCar.
“It just shows what IndyCar is all about right now. It’s exciting times for the category. I hope the fans relish it. I think it’s awesome to have Romain and Jimmie be a part of it. They’re two guys that have done so many things in world motorsport.”
McLaughlin’s first race this year will be the Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsport Park. It is a circuit he knows well after extensive testing there during the off-season.
Still, he says there is so much to learn over the short period leading up to the opening race in April.
“There’s a lot of things I’ve got to get used to. For instance, even just driving a turbo car. I’ve never really done that before in Australia.
“For me, I’m learning boost levels, aero maps, trusting aero, aerodynamics through corners and stuff.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m making the headway, and then one of the boys will go out and smash me by half a second.
“I think for me, it’s just getting an understanding of the car, what I want from it.
“It’s taken me a little bit of time at Barber. Barber is quite difficult. I put Barber at the same commitment level that you need at Bathurst. It’s very tough.”
The Grand Prix of Alabama will take place on April 16-18.