MORTON A GUIDING FORCE FOR V8 SUPERSTARS
There has been none prouder than Sydney based Speed FX/Decina Racing's V8 Supercar team owner Jim Morton, to see some of the current troupe of stars strut their stuff during the 2006 Australian V8 Supercar Series.
Under Morton's direction, Decina Racing pilot Michael Caruso will challenge for a first up championship podium in the Fujitsu V8 Supercars, during this weekend's seventh and final round at Phillip Island's Caterpillar Grand Finale.
A pole position, four second placings and a third during his debut season suggests Caruso is capable of following in the footsteps of many of Morton's former protege that have been blazing a path of glory this season.
The well respected motor racing mentor has previously guided the early karting fortunes of FPR's Sandown winning combination Jason Bright and Mark Winterbottom, Bathurst podium filler Stone Brothers Racing's James Courtney, Fujitsu Racing's Warren Luff and Alan Gurr of Paul Morris Motorsports.
For Morton, this year's Bathurst event provided an opportunity to catch up with his former drivers and the event proved all the more special as he watched Caruso come of age and perform admirably during the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 driving with Team BOC.
"You ask all motorsport people and they'll agree Bathurst is the supreme event of the year and for me it was a great thrill to be a part of Michael's introduction to the mountain," said Morton.
"To see so many of the guys I've helped through karts on show at Bathurst each year is always very satisfying.
"I think Michael has shown enough, through what he's been able to achieve this season, to prove that he's no flash in the pan.
"I know there would be quite a few people involved in the main series that have sat up and taken notice."
The Morton/Caruso combination started in karts where they managed to secure numerous State and National championships, plus a prestigious North American title, before claiming an Australian F3 crown.
"Michael has delivered in every facet of his racing to a level in which I knew he was capable of. When we have given him the necessary equipment to do the job he has always come up trumps.
"We are in a position this weekend where we can put together enough points to claim third in the championship which would be a major coup and just reward for the efforts of the entire Speed FX/Decina Racing team.
"In karting you learn to respect your tyres and I think it's worth noting we have only lost one tyre during this season which is testament to Michael's ability and his overall soft touch on the track.
"You only need to ask our data guys to realise how much Michael is looking after the car and is so attuned to its capabilities."
Caruso will compete in two 19-lap Fujitsu V8 Supercar feature races as the major preliminary to the Caterpillar Grand Finale.
Ironically, Mark Winterbottom, who currently holds down third spot in the main series, will also be shooting for a maiden open V8 Supercar Championship podium to add to his Development Series title win in 2003.
Boasting a proven record of guiding Australia's most elite drivers to the top of their profession, there's no doubt Jim Morton is already considered a winner in motor racing circles.
If Caruso can help snare the team a Championship podium it would cap off yet another milestone for the astute mentor and prove the perfect platform for 23 year-old Michael to continue his quest for more regular main series competition.