Dean Fiore and Taz Douglas have been selected as co-drivers for the Norton Hornets Nissan Motorsport team for the 'Endurance Cup’ at Sandown, Bathurst and the Gold Coast.
Fiore will team with Michael Caruso, while Douglas returns to the team for his second season alongside James Moffat.
Fiore, 30, has been a V8 Supercars regular for the past five years, however, circumstances have kept him out of a full-time drive this year.
Douglas’ role will be a familiar one, having teamed with Moffat last year. The pair was the highest finishing Nissan in the Bathurst 1000 last year and was extremely competitive at the Gold Coast street race.
Amongst all co-drivers, Douglas was regarded one of the fastest non-regulars in the field last year.
Douglas, 29, is keeping race fit in the V8 Supercars Development Series, while Fiore is also competing in other selected racing categories in Australia.
Both drivers will get to drive the Nissan Altima V8 Supercars during the team’s three official test days prior to their scheduled events.
The Wilson Security Sandown 500 will be held on 12-14 September 2014, followed by the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 on 9-12 October 2014 and the Armor All Gold Coast 600 on 24-26October 2014.
“I’m really happy to have him back. He’s racing in the Development Series, so he’ll have plenty of miles under his belt. I think he’ll be good form by the time we get to Sandown.
“The championship is so close these days, but I feel like we’re a good combination. Last year, I don’t think we had the package to be a real threat, but certainly Gold Coast we had good speed, and hopefully with some improvements as the year goes on, we should be in a better spot at all three races.”
Taz Douglas, #360 Norton Nissan Altima (co-driver):
“Over the off-season, the team has done a lot of work and development, so this year we’re expecting to move further up the grid,” said Taz Douglas.
”It’s also Moffat’s second year in the team, and he’s driving better than he has.
“I don’t like to put expectations on things. There’s an idea of where you’d like to finish, but all three tracks are quite different layouts. Gold Coast was our strongest, and if things had gone different for us, we could have had a couple of top fives, maybe even a podium.
“While I don’t have any expectations, our aim is to be in the hunt for a podium every time.”
Michael Caruso, #36 Norton Nissan Altima:
“I’m really excited for the endurances races and teaming up with Dean,” said Michael Caruso.
“Once I heard the news that we’d locked him away, I was pretty pumped.
“The Endurance Cup is a prestigious prize, even through it has only been around for one season, but it’s one of those things you want to get your hands on. I think this year is a good opportunity to get up there and challenge for it.
“The aim is to win, and with Dean, I reckon we’ve got a great shot. Heading into those three races, they’re the big three, and if you can be on top of them, you won’t just be good for the endurance cup, you’ll be in a good spot in the championship.”
Dean Fiore, #36 Norton Nissan Altima (co-driver):
“I’m really excited to join Nissan Motorsport. This is a great opportunity for me,” said Dean Fiore.
“This is my first drive for a factory V8 Supercars team. While I’m not driving full-time, that was one of my big goals, and I managed to get it with what I feel is the best factory team out there.
“The team is definitely on the up, and anything can happen in the endurance races. We’re not going in to come last. We’re going to be fighting for podium finishes.
“With the progress the team has made in the off-season season and some of the results we’ve seen in the first few events, I reckon we’ll be very competitive later in the season.”
CO-DRIVER FACTS & STATS:
Born: Kalgoorlie, West Australia
Lives: Perth, West Australia
V8 Supercars debut: 2009
Career highlights: Second in 2008 Porsche Carrera Cup
Born: Frankston, Victoria
Lives: Cranbourne, Victoria
V8 Supercars debut: 2007
Career highlights: 2005 Victorian Formula Ford Champion