DECINA SIXTH FASTEST AT PHILLIP ISLAND
Michael Caruso has enjoyed a positive start to the seventh and final round of the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series, slotting the Speed FX/Decina Racing Falcon into sixth place during practice at Phillip Island's Caterpillar Grand Finale.
A progressive, upbeat demeanour has typified the approach of the team as it targets a Championship podium, with Sydney based Caruso reacquainting himself with the 4.46 kilometre Victorian circuit, completing 35 laps during today's two sessions.
The Phillip Island circuit has previously blessed the Collaroy driver with open wheel success in 2002 and it's hoped favourable fortunes can be repeated in V8 Supercars.
Tomorrow marks the first opportunity to add to his season tally of points as Caruso looks to bridge a 30-point advantage held by Jack Perkins in the hunt for third place overall in 2006.
"We're very optimistic, particularly after running strongly in the first session on an old set of tyres," said Caruso.
"In the second session we made a few changes to the set up trying to draw a little more out of the car that probably didn't work for the best, but we'll go back to a more proven package for tomorrow morning's qualifying session.
"The car's always been quick on new tyres and with the adjustments to be made overnight I can't see why we can't be up at the pointy end during racing."
The assignment this weekend, starts with the first of two 19-lap races which gets underway at 2.10pm tomorrow followed by Sunday's 1.20pm showdown which wraps up the 2006 season.
Speed FX/Decina Racing team Owner/Manager Jim Morton has forecast a positive event at Phillip Island, maintaining absolute faith in his young charge.
"We tried a few things in the second session but there was a lot of oil spilled on to the track so it was very hard to make any progress," said Morton.
"Michael's come on strong straight out of the box this morning and put together some consistent laps so sixth place is a solid start.
"We still have our new tyres and expect to have the car on song during qualifying then be ready to dig in during race one.
"The Speed FX/Decina Racing team has come a long way this season and I'm sure we can put it together and finish on a high."
Quickest in practice today was Championship leader Adam Macrow, with Bathurst winner and fellow Ford driver Andrew Thompson second and Holden's Shane Price third.