Caruso not daunted by Supercars-TCR double

Michael Caruso in his Alfa Romeo at Mount Panorama in April

Michael Caruso is not daunted by the task of swapping between a TCR car and Supercar at Bathurst.

Caruso will contest the final round of the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series at the same event, the Repco Bathurst 1000, as that where he will drive Mark Winterbottom’s Team 18 Supercar in the Great Race.

That means switching from his usual ride, a Garry Rogers Motorsport-run Alfa Romeo with a turbocharged engine connected to the front wheels, to a ZB Commodore that sends its V8 power to the other end.

As Lee Holdsworth demonstrated when Round 3 of this year’s Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series was also held at Mount Panorama, a front-wheel drive is a vastly different proposition to a rear-wheel drive.

Caruso nevertheless says the double duty is comparable to when he drove for Speed FX/Ford Rising Stars Racing in the Super2 Series while also contesting the Bathurst 1000, in 2006 with Brad Jones Racing and in 2007 with WPS Racing.

“When I did double duties in the Development Series and Supercars, those cars handled different, and needed to be driven differently, so you just adapted and got on with it,” he explained.

“I can’t see this being any more of a challenge to that, and it will be a bonus to have more track time. It will help get myself into the zone for the big race on Sunday.”

For Caruso, all going well, it means north of 700km of racing given minimum driving time in the Bathurst 1000 itself and the TCR format of three 21-lap races.

“I’m really looking forward to double duties at Bathurst, especially in two really different styles of touring cars,” he remarked.

“Any time you race at Bathurst, it’s special, regardless of what car you are in.

“TCR is going to be fantastic, especially with the 400km format over the three longer races.”

The 38-year-old is the most recent Supercheap Auto TCR Australia race winner, and has been for more than four months now given COVID-19 has put paid to any competition since the May round at Sydney Motorsport Park.

He is therefore looking forward to more running than usual, with the Bathurst 1000 playing host to the hot hatch series’ longest races so far in its short history.

Caruso in Mark Winterbottom’s ZB Commodore

“It’s been a while since I’ve been in the Valvoline Alfa, but that format is perfect for me,” declared Caruso.

“It’s where I feel like I’m going to come into my own. They’ll be strategies in the race, because I don’t think that you’re going to have to be able to go hell for leather.

“All of the different makes have different capabilities, and 21 laps around the mountain in a TCR car is going to be a challenge, but fun.“

This year’s Bathurst 1000 is a six-day event, given it incorporates much of what was to have been held at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst International.

The unprecedented nature of what will unfold just over two months from now is not lost on the 2009 Great Race podium finisher.

“Add [TCR] into my duties as a co-driver for Team 18 in the 1000 is going to be massive,” exclaimed Caruso.

“It’s a massive week for the sport, and something really special. Who knows if we’ll get to do anything like this ever again?

“I’m going there in both cars with a good opportunity to win. It would be great to take out the touring car double at Bathurst.”

Double duty is hardly unusual for Bathurst 1000 co-drivers, although the unusual nature of this year’s event means decisions have to be made as far as a number of Supercars Championship regulars are concerned.

A RWD-FWD double act is much less common, although Jason Bargwanna and Boris Said undertook it in 2008 when they ran in Mini Challenge while also being hired guns in the Great Race for Tony D’Alberto Racing and Paul Morris Motorsport respectively.

Action begins at Mount Panorama on November 30.

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