Kelly Racing co-owner and driver Rick Kelly says that out-of-contract Fujitsu Racing pilot Michael Caruso possesses the qualities his team is chasing for its assault on the 2013 V8 Supercars Championship.
Kelly’s four-car outfit will be transformed into Nissan Motorsport next season, where the squad will run four Altima-bodied entries.
With both Greg Murphy and Karl Reindler set to reach the end of their deals with the team this year, only Rick and brother Todd are currently locked-in to the team’s 2013 driving roster.
Caruso, who is in the midst of his fifth season with the Garry Rogers’ owned Fujitsu Racing squad, is being heavily linked to one of the Nissan drives. It is also understood that Caruso is in talks with Ford Performance Racing over the seat in the Charlie Schwerkolt-owned entry that the factory Ford team will add to its line-up next year.
While emphasising that both Murphy and Reindler remain possibilities to stay on next year, Kelly says that his team needs to ensure it has four potentially race-winning drivers in its stable.
“Nissan has been very clear on their expectations, and it comes as no surprise that they are the same as ours,” Kelly told Speedcafe.com.
“Next year, we need to have guys that are either capable of winning races or people that will be capable of it in the future.
“Right now, we’re focused on getting that out of the guys we have on board, but if it’s not possible to have them in the team next year, then we’ll work out what the options are.”
When asked for his thoughts on Caruso, the 2006 V8 Supercars champion was quick to offer praise.
“I get along quite well with Michael – he’s a great young guy,” said Kelly.
“He’s proven that when he has the car underneath him, he does a very good job. If all the cars and planets align, then I think he’d be a good fit for us.
“But, there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge before we make those decisions. We haven’t started a strong dialogue with anyone at the moment.
“It is still pretty early in the year, and usually Bathurst time is when things become clearer.”
Kelly’s comments follow Jacques Villeneuve’s outing with the team at Townsville, where the former Formula 1 World Champion substituted for the injured Murphy.
Although it remains to be decided whether Villeneuve will return for next month’s Coates Hire Ipswich 300, both parties made positive noises in Townsville over the possibility of teaming up next season.
Villeneuve is highly unlikely to be the only international driver on Kelly Racing’s wish list however, with the Braeside-based team’s multi-national crew of engineers possessing a global web of motorsport contacts.
CLICK HERE for thoughts from Kelly and Villeneuve following the Surogen Townsville 400
CLICK HERE on yesterday’s story regarding the progress of Kelly Racing’s Nissan V8 Supercar project
CLICK HERE for more on Kelly Racing’s involvement in other teams’ COTF chassis as a materials supplier