STORMING RECOVERY GIVES DECINA RACING SEVENTH AT MALLALA
A brilliant drive in the final race of the day by young gun Michael Caruso has lifted Decina Racing to seventh overall in Round 5 of the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series at Mallala Motorsport Park in South Australia today.
The Sydney-based V8 Supercar team recovered from a series of mechanical problems to storm through the field in the third and final race of the day. Caruso drove from 18th position on the grid to finish a fine fourth, a significant gain of 14 cars in the 28-lap race.
Caruso made a superb start to pass five cars on the opening lap of Race 3 and the New South Welshman was into the top 10 by lap six. With mechanical woes finally behind him, Caruso passed Nathan Pretty for fourth place in the latter stages of the race to be seventh overall for the round and maintain sixth in the championship standings.
Caruso was suitably pleased with the team's performance in the final race, but could not help but think what might have been if the car had been at its best all weekend.
"We made the car a lot better and I made a great start to the last race," said Caruso.
"The Decina Falcon was really quick in the Race 3, which allowed me to pick off the cars one by one. I just put my head down, kept passing cars and drove as hard as I could.
"Unfortunately the pace came late in the weekend. It's a pity because we had such a good package after we sorted the engine problems.
"If it wasn't for the car getting stuck in fourth gear in Race 2 we would have started the last race a lot higher and had a really good chance at a strong overall result.
"The car speed we showed in Race 3 is a positive sign for the final two rounds of the year.
"Bathurst is going to be a massive challenge for me. I have never driven at Bathurst, so it will be a huge learning experience, but I am looking forward to it."
The result was a significant comeback from the problems that plagued the team in the earlier races. An overnight engine change brought some improvement to the Decina Falcon for Sunday after the issues suffered in practice and qualifying, but a gearbox problem surfaced on race day.
The car was still not at its best for Race 1, but Caruso climbed up the order from position 17 on the grid to finish 11th. The reverse grid Race 2 started in fine fashion for Caruso, progressing to ninth from a start position of 18th within eight laps. But the car then jammed in fourth gear on lap 11, Caruso nursing the car home to finish 23rd.
The speed shown is a great boost for the team heading into the biggest round of the year at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 next month. Caruso has never driven at the classic Mount Panorama circuit but after today's performance is pumped about the opportunity to drive one of the world's great circuits.
Team Owner Jim Morton feels confident about the prospects of the team heading into the final two rounds of the season after the stirring drive of Caruso in Race 3 today.
"We finished the weekend well even though we struggled with engine problems on Saturday and gearbox problems in the first two races," said Morton.
"I'm pretty happy we're a front runner again. Now we need to work at sorting out these engine problems for Bathurst.
"Bathurst will be a big event for Decina Racing. Michael has never driven there and like everyone that races these cars he is looking forward to racing at that event."
Adam Macrow won today's round ahead of his championship rival Shane Price, with New Zealander Mark Porter third overall.