Caruso strikes two-year deal with Team 18

Michael Caruso (left) and Charlie Schwerkolt

Team 18 has pulled off a co-driver coup, signing Supercars race winner Michael Caruso on a two-year deal.

The 37-year-old’s recruitment, which coincides with confirmation James Golding has been retained, completes a strong quartet to tackle Mount Panorama in October.

Caruso joins the team from Tickford Racing, having taken provisional pole and seventh place with Lee Holdsworth in last year’s Great Race.

As yet, the team hasn’t confirmed who Caruso and Golding will race with, though the latter partnered Mark Winterbottom in 2020.

The signing means Dean Fiore departs the Team 18 fold after one year with the Waverley-based outfit where he claimed sixth alongside Scott Pye.

Caruso and Golding will each have just one competitive outing with the team in 2021, with this year’s Repco Bathurst 1000 the sole endurance event of the season.

Team boss Charlie Schwerkolt said he was buoyed by Caruso’s signing and to have secured Golding’s services again.

“It’s really exciting to bring Michael Caruso onboard for Bathurst this year, he’s a seriously talented driver and a valuable addition to our co-driver lineup,” said Schwerkolt.

“It’s a two-year deal which is great to have that continuity within the team, and he fits the mould as a fantastic team player.

“He’s going to be a busy man between his TCR racing and completing our ride days and test days throughout the year, so his speed and race-craft will be sharp by the time we get to Bathurst.

“James Golding showed strong speed last year with us and we immediately looked to retain his services in 2021.

“I’d like to thank Dean Fiore for his outstanding efforts last year, he fit in so well with our team and performed extremely well with Scott [Pye] at Bathurst.”

Caruso and Golding will both be busy throughout 2021 racing in the Australian Racing Group-owned TCR Australia Series and S5000 respectively.

Caruso will contest this year’s TCR series in an Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce for Garry Rogers Motorsport alongside Jordan Cox.

Golding will also race for Garry Rogers Motorsport in the S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship alongside Nathan Herne and Luis Leeds.

Golding, who finished eighth in last year’s Bathurst 1000, said he’s eager to return to Team 18 for a second straight campaign.

“I’m really looking forward to continuing my relationship with Charlie and Team 18 in 2021 after the strong result I had with Frosty at Bathurst last year,” said the 24-year-old.

“The team’s continuing to build stronger race-on-race and that’s what you look for as a driver, you want to be with a team with that kind of attitude and progression.

“It’s great to see some new people onboard and some very experienced people at that, I’ve worked with Richard Hollway [Head of Engineering] and Michael Caruso in the past and I get along well with both of them.

“I have the ultimate focus of getting back in a full-time seat, unfortunately nothing lined up for 2021 but that remains my focus and I think Team 18 is a great platform to show what I can do as well as racing the S5000 to keep my name out there.

“It’s all about being in the right place at the right time, and I think Team 18 is the right place to show what I can do as a driver and I hope to make the most of this opportunity.”

This year’s Bathurst 1000 takes place on October 7-10.

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