Why Caruso 'couldn’t refuse' Team 18 opportunity

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 13/01/2021
  • By James Pavey

A "thrilled" Michael Caruso has admitted he couldn’t refuse a deal to co-drive with Team 18 after watching the team’s progress.

The two-time race winner was confirmed to drive for the Holden squad at the only endurance event on the 2021 calendar, October’s Repco Bathurst 1000.

He has shifted from Tickford Racing, where he drove alongside Lee Holdsworth, who last week was confirmed to leave the Ford team.

Caruso, who enjoyed a full-time main game career between 2008 and 2018, was a high-profile addition to the co-driver ranks alongside Cameron Waters in Tickford’s Monster Energy entry in 2019.

A shift to the Holdsworth entry in 2020 was buoyed by a Bathurst provisional pole, but the pair finished seventh in the race.

Team 18 has bolstered its ranks in 2021, with decorated engineer Richard Hollway joining the squad.

Having sealed the move to Charlie Schwerkolt’s team, Caruso is already counting down to his 16th Bathurst start.

"I’m thrilled to sign a deal with Charlie to come and co-drive with Team 18 in 2021," he said.

"When you come here and see how the team operates and the progress being made behind the scenes, it was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse.

"Charlie’s very motivated about his motor racing, he’s been very successful in the past, he understands what it takes to achieve that success.

"You can see what he’s building with the guys and girls here in the team that they’re heading in the right direction."

Scott Pye and Mark Winterbottom helped both Team 18 entries to the top 10 in the 2020 championship, with Pye claiming three podiums.

Caruso is hoping Team 18 can act on its 2020 momentum ahead of October’s Great Race.

"When you look at the names that are here, you’ve got Phil Keed and now with Richard Hollway joining, it’s an amazing leadership group," the 37-year-old said.

"With Steve Henderson as team manager as well, you can see everyone in the core group gets along and I think that’s a crucial part to it all.

"The continuity that this team already has taking into next year is something that I think can trip up a lot of other teams with a lot of changes happening in the off-season.

"I will be keenly watching on the boys here at Team 18 and hopefully being a part of the team throughout the year to understand how they work so when I role up to Bathurst we’re ready to go."

Caruso will race for the team at the Repco Bathurst 1000 across October 7-10.

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