2016 IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud has said he would gladly welcome the challenge of Scott McLaughlin in the premier American open-wheel class.
McLaughlin was third fastest at the pre-season test in Texas while driving for Team Penske and his gifted ability behind the wheel has already earnt the kiwi a race drive at GMR Grand Prix from Indianapolis in May this year.
“He’s been impressive, I must say,”said Pagenaud.
“He’s obviously a great champion. You don’t win the V8 Supercars champion twice without being an incredible driver.
“It’s expected for him to jump into anything and be fast and end up understanding the series.
“Having champions come from other series for IndyCar is really good. It just shows the interest. It just shows that the series is on the upward trend.”
McLaughlin has already expressed a keen interest in racing full-time in the US.
“I would love to explore more of America. I would like to be in America one day, that is my ultimate goal,”said McLaughlin post the pre-season test.
“Whether it is here (IndyCar) or whether it is there, I just want to be here one day.”
Pagenaud, meanwhile, who remains with Team Penske for a sixth successive season, is working hard on developing his team’s car in time for the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg next weekend.
Last year’s Indy 500 champion missed out on a second career title last year but is in high spirits after a strong performance during testing.
McLaughlin’s focus turns also to next weekend when the Supercars championship heads to Albert Park for the Melbourne 400 as apart of the Australian Grand Prix.