Nissan factory driver Michael Caruso is hoping the team’s test at Winton next week will deliver more speed, but there’s another delivery he’s more anxious and excited about right now.
The V8 Supercars ace and wife Danielle are expecting the birth of their first child within about 10 days.
“There is lots going on at the moment, it’s pretty exciting times,” Caruso told v8supercars.com.au. “We are looking forward to that and that’s obviously going to change life a lot.”
Caruso is conscious of the old axiom that drivers lose a tenth of a second per lap for each child, but he’s hoping the opposite is true based on what he’s observed around the pits.
“All the blokes who have babies start winning races! I remember when Garth Tander had his first one, he won a race. Then he had his second one and won another race. James Courtney is obviously doing good too.”
Certainly, the 30-year old is keen for more speed from any possible source for his Norton Hornet Nissan Altima, as he currently runs a frustrated 22nd in the V8 Supercars Drivers’ Championship.
The struggle to obtain competitive horsepower and – concerningly for the upcoming enduros – fuel economy from the production-based VK56DE V8 engine has been widely reported and is openly acknowledged by the team.
At the most recent round of the Championship, the Coates Hire Ipswich 360, Caruso suffered the indignity of qualifying last for Race 24.
He raced through the field to finish 16th, but conceded it wasn’t that much of a compensation.
“What we are finding as a team quite difficult this year is clearly we are down in power and that obviously affects our qualifying performance much more than our race performance.
“In qualifying you have to have the car quite literally in the set-up window and one thing we are finding is the set-up window is not as big as we are used to.
“I am looking forward to getting to Winton and getting a good 100-plus laps under the belt and helping the engineers get a better understanding of the set-up window and where it likes to be and when it needs something what we can throw at it.”
But Caruso was unsure if the test, which is Nissan Motorsport’s first since the season began, would make much progress on the engine front.
“In terms of the engine I couldn’t tell you. It comes down to Craig Spencer, our technical director, and the engine guys – how they structure whether something is happening or something is coming. I don’t want to be on their case all the time, they know we are down on horsepower!”
Nevertheless Caruso remains committed to the program and is excited by its potential. An extension of his deal with the team is thought to be a formality, as it is for teammate James Moffat.
“It has always been my intention to be with Nissan Motorsport for a long period of time,” he said. “This year has been tough, it was never perceived it was going to be easy, but there are definitely lots of good things happening and I definitely want to be around and continue helping the team develop and be there when it all comes good.”