VALVOLINE BACKS MICHAEL CARUSO
Two-year deal ‘re-inked’ for GRM Alfa Romeo driver
Valvoline and Garry Rogers Motorsport have rolled over their two-year TCR Australia commitment with Michael Caruso for the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
Announced at the start of last year, Michael was set for a two-year stint in the emerging turbo-charged touring car class, only for the COVID-19 pandemic to put a halt to the program.
Driving his Valvoline Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce, the former Supercars race winner and Bathurst 1000 podium finisher qualified on the front-row at the TCR Asia Pacific Cup event at Albert Park, but never got the chance to see the green lights when the Formula 1 event was closed down at the start of the health crisis.
Despite the challenges that he faced in 2020, Michael is pleased that all parties have agreed to keep the two-year program in place.
“Having not done any racing last year, it’s great that both Valvoline and GRM are keen to roll the partnership on for the intended two years, so we are all pretty excited to get it going,” Michael said.
“We feel that it is going to be a successful partnership. The TCR Series is a fantastic, global product, and despite the fact that we have been a full year out of the seat, there is some really strong interest out there to see the cars go back around.
“This type of racing really excites Valvoline. They love all motorsport, but the closeness of the TCR racing and the variety of brands in the field is something that has them keen for more.
“When I got to Albert Park, it was only my second time in the car. I was so looking forward to getting into that race, starting alongside Garth Tander. To not even get onto the track that day was a real let down.
“That is all behind us now, so we have full focus on 2021. There’s no doubt that the ingredients are there to get some strong results in the Alfa Romeo.”
The first event of the 2021 TCR Australia Series was held at Symmons Plains Raceway in late January, held as part of the inaugural Race Tasmania festival.
Michael qualified fifth in Tasmania and finished race one in 12th and race three in ninth after failing to finish race two due to a crash.
A Safety Car interrupted that race for a short period after a tangle between Michael’s Alfa and Dylan O’Keeffe’s Renault at the end of the first lap.
Michael’s Alfa fired across the front of the Renault, slamming into the pit straight wall and ending the Valvoline-sponsored driver’s race.
The second round of the Championship is scheduled for Phillip Island in Victoria on February 19-21.
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