Darwin winner Michael Caruso says he never doubted his ability despite going six years without a race victory.
Caruso struck a win at the same circuit back with Garry Rogers Motorsport in 2009, and today put Nissan back in the winners circle, earning the manufacturer’s first win since 2013 in the new gen era.
The victory means all four makes have won races this season, and Caruso becomes the 10th different winner in 12 races.
The 33-year old racer was emotional crossing the line and said the result was important for the whole four-car squad.
“It’s a great result not just for me personally but obviously it was important to get this win with what’s going on in the background with the team, so it’s a fantastic result and I know how much it means … particularly to Todd and Rick [Kelly co-owner],” he said.
Despite the long time between drinks, Caruso was sure he was up to the task.
The Nissan team did take time to perfect the Altima, particularly the engine which continued to receive more upgrades this year.
“I never really doubted my ability. Sometimes in motor racing it’s the situation that you’re in – but to get back to this position isn’t done without hard work.
“That’s not just from my part but the team and particularly off-track with everything you do behind the scenes, so you’ve just got to keep working at it.”
He also praised the competition and acknowledged the high standard of his competitors after leading six-time Supercars champ Jamie Whincup home in today’s race.
“I’ve been racing against Jamie for such a long time and these blokes – I know they’re not just drivers passing by, they’re blokes that are obviously very, very good at their job and they win for a reason.”
Whincup’s Red Bull teammate Shane van Gisbergen appeared to be Caruso’s biggest challenger early in the race, but was penalised after an incorrect restart after the Safety Car appeared early.
The Nissan driver was aware his competitor had been called in but was focused on finishing his race and delivering.
“I tried to keep a cool head … I knew what my car was capable of today from early on.
“I just wanted to race my race and that was quite evident after we pitted we were able to put a few laps down – that gave us the opportunity to win the race.”