CARUSO CHARGES TO SEVENTH AT PHILLIP ISLAND
A hard charging Michael Caruso has given himself every possible chance of a Championship podium for Speed FX/Decina Racing after clinching a gutsy first up 7th place during race one of the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series at Phillip Island today.
Leading into tomorrow's final race, Caruso remains just 35 points adrift of third placed Jack Perkins, who completed today's penultimate race of the series in 6th position.
Severe understeer during qualifying forced the Speed FX/Decina Racing team to make wholesale changes prior to today's race and the adjustments proved a master stroke during the 19-lap feature event.
The Sydney driver started from 11th position on the grid and made his intentions clear from the outset as he hung tough with the lead pack and then grinded out a progressive strategy that saw him pluck off the opposition one-by-one.
A competitive opening lap coupled with precise passing manouvres on Grant Denyer, Nathan Pretty and Wayne Wakefield during the first half of the race set up the ideal start to Decina Racing's weekend Victorian campaign.
"Full credit to the Speed FX/Decina Racing team on their ability to provide me a competitive race car today," said Caruso.
"It was looking a bit dicey early on in qualifying but the guys tweaked the balance and we were a much better proposition by race time.
"The best part is there are still a few other things that we can work on overnight and start tomorrow's race in even better shape.
"All we can do is take care of our own back yard to give us the best possible chance of a championship podium and we'll just see how Jack (Perkins) fares."
Speed FX/Decina Racing team Manager Jim Morton was again at his tactical best and will look to add the finishing touches to the team's 2006 campaign during tomorrow's final race of the series.
"The car is usually up to two seconds quicker on new tyres and the way we struggled a bit in qualifying the team knew there were changes to be made," confirmed Morton.
"We're edging closer to the perfect balance so I can't see why we can't make further gains overnight to give Michael the best possible opportunity of moving up the leader board.
"Michael drove hard in a fair bit of traffic early on today but managed to stay composed and was able to outlast some of the other teams in the run to the line.
"We'll centre our attention on remaining competitive for a further 19 laps to wrap up the year and I'm sure we can finish the season on a high."
Pole sitter Shane Price led from start to finish today ahead of Ford young gun Andrew Thompson with Tony D'Alberto further back in third.