Caruso joins Team 18 for Bathurst

Michael Caruso has signed with Team 18 for this year’s Bathurst 1000.

The Holden squad has unveiled its entire Bathurst line-up for 2020, with Caruso joining fresh from a two-year stint as an enduro driver at Tickford Racing, and James Golding retained for a second enduro campaign.

The pairings, however, are yet to be made official, leaving which of the co-drivers will partner Mark Winterbottom and Scott Pye open for now.

The Caruso deal leaves Dean Fiore, who partnered Pye to a fine sixth at Bathurst last year, without a Team 18 seat this year.

Caruso and Fiore have their own Bathurst history, the pair having tackled the Great Race together five times during Caruso’s Nissan Motorsport stint.

According to Caruso the Team 18 move was a no-brainer, particularly as the squad looks to build on a promising 2020 campaign by bolstering its engineering stocks.

“When you come here and see how the team operates and the progress being made behind the scenes, it was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse,” said Caruso.

“[Team owner] Charlie [Schwerkolt] is very motivated about his motor racing, he’s been very successful in the past, he understands what it takes to achieve that success and you can see what he’s building with the guys and girls here in the team.

“When you look at the names that are here, you’ve got Phil Keed and now with Richard Hollway joining, it’s an amazing leadership group with Steve Henderson as Team Manager as well – you can see everyone in the core group gets along and I think that’s a crucial part to it all.

“I’m locked away to race TCR for the next two years, which is pretty exciting because that keeps me actively driving, but I will be keenly watching the boys here at Team 18, and hopefully being a part of the team throughout the year to understand how they work so when I roll up to Bathurst, we’re ready to go.”

Golding, who finished eighth at Bathurst alongside Winterbottom last year, said that continuing with a competitive team is crucial to his goal of a full-time Supercars return.

“The team’s continuing to [become] 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,” he said.

“It’s great to see some new people onboard and some very experienced people at that. I’ve worked with Richard Hollway 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.”

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