Team 18 has confirmed its enduro partners for the 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000, with Michael Caruso to team up with Mark Winterbottom in the IRWIN Racing Commodore.
Caruso will make his 16th Great Race start this year and joins fellow Sydney-born driver Winterbottom for the first time since the pair began competing against each other in karts over 25 years ago.
The pair raced as rivals in the Supercars Championship for the last 15 years before Caruso, a two-time race winner, settled into the role of a specialist endurance co-driver.
Caruso will take the wheel in the IRWIN Commodore during the official Supercars pre-season test at Winton Motor Raceway tomorrow, with Winterbottom to complete the bulk of the day’s laps.
Team 18 and the entire Supercars field will launch into the season proper at the Mount Panorama 500 next week for Round 1 of the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship, featuring two single-driver 250km races for Winterbottom and Pye.
Practice kicks off on Friday, February 26, with coverage via the Seven Network, Fox Sports and Kayo.
Michael Caruso, Co-Driver – #18 IRWIN Racing Holden ZB Commodore
“I’m really excited to team up with Frosty in the #18 IRWIN Racing car at Bathurst this year,” said Caruso.
“We’ve been competitors since we raced karts as kids, but we have never actually teamed up for anything so I’m looking forward to seeing how he operates within the team.
“I’m very much aware of his abilities as a Supercars champion and he’s won Bathurst as well, so it’s exciting to team up with someone who knows how to get the job done up there and that’s what we’re aiming to do.
“Tomorrow’s test at Winton is going to be a great opportunity to get a feel for the car, meet people in the team and work together for the first time and work on all the little processes that are crucial to the end result.”
“Before then I’ll just be looking at getting as much seat time as possible between test days and ride days so when we get to the Bathurst 1000 we’re fully prepared to put our best foot forward.”
Mark Winterbottom, Primary Driver – #18 IRWIN Racing Holden ZB Commodore
“It’s great to have Michael join me in the #18 IRWIN Racing entry for the Bathurst 1000,” said Winterbottom.
“Michael and I grew up together through karting and we’ve now raced against each other in Supercars for over 15 years. This will be the first time that we’ve been together in the same team, so I’m stoked to finally get the chance to work with him.
“He’s doing other racing this year that will keep him sharp, we’re going to give him as much seat time as possible, so I have no doubt he’ll be on the money when we get to Mount Panorama in October.”