Michael Caruso hopes a surprise return to the Supercars Championship at Townsville will help Garry Rogers Motorsport and boost his own plans to return to series full-time next year.
Caruso has been drafted in to drive the #33 Boost Mobile Racing ZB Commodore while regular driver Richie Stanaway is on the sidelines for a second consecutive full event as he recovers from an ongoing neck injury.
The move will see the 36-year-old return to the grid for the first time since losing his full-time seat at Kelly Racing at the end of last year.
It also sees the driver, who will partner Cameron Waters at Tickford for this year’s Pirtek Enduro Cup, team up with the Garry Rogers Motorsport squad that launched his Supercars Championship career back in 2008.
This season GRM has struggled for speed and results and is yet to score a top 10 finish from the 16 races to date.
Caruso sees the opportunity as a chance to lend his experience to the team as it bids to understand its ZB Commodores.
“I’m fully aware of how they’ve been running and, look, the team are aware of it as well, so I know it’s not going to be an easy task, when the car’s running good or not, to step in,” Caruso told Speedcafe.com.
“But I feel like I can help them out. I mean, it’s very easy, in Supercars, to get a little bit lost and, obviously through my experience, I can hopefully help them out and get them on track to moving back towards where they should be running.”
In addition, the Melbourne-based driver had made his intention clear to rejoin the Supercars grid on a full-time basis next season and hopes the outing can put himself back in the silly season shop window.
Caruso says he has already held talks with teams for 2020 as the silly season begins to ramp up.
“Look, I’ve been speaking to people throughout the year, and everyone’s very aware that my intentions are to be back full time next year, so, it is a good opportunity to see me drive,” he added.
“They’re going to know all too well that stepping in after not racing since Newcastle, and in a car that I’ve never driven before, is going to be not an easy task but, like I said, it’s just great laps before the endurance rounds come up.
“And I’ll take every opportunity, whether it be driving for Tickford or driving this weekend (Townsville), to do the job when it counts.
“There’s lots of stuff going on at the moment, and, as you know, this part of the year and probably the next couple of months for teams and drivers is going to start ramping up and people will start making plans.”
In preparation for his racing return, Caruso joined the squad at Winton earlier this week for a run in one of the squad’s Super2 VF Commodores.
The Watpac Townsville 400 begins on Friday with opening practice at 1055 AEST.