Michael Caruso believes Nissan Motorsport need to find more power if they’re to compete at the front of the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship in 2018.
Caruso ended last season 13th in the championship, the best placed of the four Nissan Motorsport drivers, with just three top five finishes.
Now heading into his sixth season with the team, he believes the team needs to find horsepower gains in order to compete with the Holden and Ford teams.
“For the average punter watching on, you can say the deficiency down the straight, so that only makes sense that we’re good in braking and in corner speed,” Caruso told Speedcafe.com
“That’s sort of what we tend to believe and I guess what the microsectors show.
“We need to fix the engine, whether it be fuel economy and engine power; it’s constantly being pushed from everybody in the category to get the most out of that, along with having your cars handle really well.”
That added expertise is something Caruso hopes will help push the team forward.
“In terms of the team structure, I know that Todd (Kelly) and Scott (Sinclair) are pretty happy with it,” he said.
“I’ve been happy with the personnel that we’ve had, particularly on my car, it’s been pretty consistent having Steve(n Todkill) as my race engineer, which won’t change for this year.
“What goes on away from the race track is obviously an important part to help us to see some gains in between each event and hopefully before the season kicks off.
“So we’re hoping that this year, and particularly our experiences in the last two years, that we’re moving forward and that’s where, as it’s been well documented in the past, the engine’s probably been our biggest handicap,” Caruso added.
“We really do need to get on top of that.
“I think when you see our results towards the end of last year, particular at Newcastle, our cars do handle really well and if we can get that engine online to the same level as everybody else has, I have no doubts that we can compete for some very good results.”
Helping his cause will a move back to 2016-spec Dunlop tyres, on which Caruso netted his lone Nissan race win at Hidden Valley, though he remains circumspect about the boost it might offer him.
“I had one of my best years in the Nissans in 2016, so it worked really well for me,” he reasoned.
“We got on top of the 2017 tyre but not until the end.
“What we’ve learned in the last two years, we’ve got some good data there to start off with.
“Everybody keeps improving, so we can’t think that going back to the 2016 tyre that we’re going to be where we were. We need to find some gains, and hopefully we have.”
Caruso is set to receive a brand-new Nissan Altima chassis for 2018, which will have a shakedown test ahead of the official test day at Sydney Motorsport Park on February 16.
The opening Supercars round of the year takes place at the Adelaide 500 on March 1-4.