Michael Caruso will rejoin Garry Rogers Motorsport to fill in for the injured Richie Stanaway at the Watpac Townsville 400.
The Melbourne squad has been forced to make a driver change with regular Stanaway continuing his recovery from a flare-up of an old neck injury that stems from a crash suffered in 2012.
Stanaway had hoped to be back Darwin before a setback ruled him out of the event, handing the drive to his Pirtek Enduro Cup co-driver Chris Pither, who has filled the seat since the conclusion of Race 13 at Winton.
Caruso has been given special permission from Tickford Racing, with whom he will contest this year’s Pirtek Enduro Cup alongside Cameron Waters, to drive the #33 Boost Mobile Racing ZB Commodore at the Reid Park Street Circuit.
The 36-year-old is a familiar face at GRM having made his full-time Supercars Championship debut with the team in 2008, which triggered a five season spell at the outfit.
During that time, Caruso took his maiden Supercars race win at Darwin in 2009 and finished third with Lee Holdsworth in the Bathurst 1000, also in 2009.
Next weekend will see Caruso contest a Supercars race for the first time since losing his drive at Kelly Racing at the end of last year.
“It’s going to a blast to get back in one of Garry’s race cars for the Townsville race weekend,” said Caruso.
“I have such fond memories racing for GRM. There’s so many familiar faces there, it really feels like home.
“This would not have been possible without the approval of Tickford Racing, so I really have to thank Tim Edwards and his crew for allowing me the chance to drive at Townsville with GRM.
“Personally, it’s going to be great to get more laps in ahead of the endurance races. I haven’t raced since the final round at Newcastle last year, but I’m sure it won’t take long for me to get my head back into race mode.
“It’s a shame that Richie is continuing to struggle with his injury, so I’m aiming to do any best for the team and bring home some decent teams’ points.”
GRM owner Garry Rogers is grateful to Tickford for allowing Caruso to take the seat while Stanaway continues his recovery.
“It is frustrating for the team having to bridge the gap until Stanaway is healthy enough to resume his full-time driving,” said Garry Rogers, who coined Caruso’s long serving nickname ‘Robbo’ after fictional character Robinson Crusoe.
“I am conscious of the complexities of Richie’s injury. After speaking to the expert medical people this is more than a stiff joint.
“I am grateful to Tickford Racing for allowing Robbo to take the seat at GRM. Robbo started his Supercar career here in 2008 and during his time we had some good results with a win at Darwin.
“A lot of the current GRM crew were here back then and it has been quite a satisfying time for myself to hear the old stories getting retold, you could say that Robbo certainly kept us amused and certainly often times bemused. I believe that his experience and driving skills could help us to improve our current performances.”
The Watpac Townsville 400 will begin on Friday, July 5.