MICHAEL Caruso will return to the Supercars Championship grid a little sooner than expected in 2019.
The 36-year-old will substitute for Richie Stanaway at Garry Rogers Motorsport, the Kiwi’s neck injury keeping him out of the cockpit for the Townsville 400.
Caruso is committed to join Cameron Waters at Tickford Racing for this year’s Enduro Cup events, but was given special permission from the Ford-aligned team to rejoin the Holden squad on a one-off basis.
GRM gave Caruso his first full-time Supercars drive in 2009, taking his maiden championship race win at Hidden Valley a year later andracing for the squad for the next five seasons.
“It’s going to a blast to get back in one of Garry’s race cars for the Townsville race weekend,” Caruso said.
“I have such fond memories racing for GRM. There’s so many familiar faces there, it really feels like home.
“This would not have been possible without the approval of Tickford Racing, so I really have to thank Tim Edwards and his crew for allowing me the chance to drive at Townsville with GRM.
“Personally, it’s going to be great to get more laps in ahead of the endurance races. I haven’t raced since the final round at Newcastle last year, but I’m sure it won’t take long for me to get my head back into race mode.
“It’s a shame that Richie is continuing to struggle with his injury, so I’m aiming to do any best for the team and bring home some decent team’s points.”
The neck injury has hobbled Stanaway since GRM’s test day prior to the Winton SuperSprint last month.
A recurrence at the event saw him replaced by GRM’s Enduro Cup and TCR Series pilot Chris Pither, who continued to substitute for Stanaway at Hidden Valley a fortnight ago.
“It is frustrating for the team having to bridge the gap until Stanaway is healthy enough to resume his full-time driving,” team owner Garry Rogers said.
“I am conscious of the complexities of Richie’s injury. After speaking to the expert medical people this is more than a stiff joint.”
The team has not indicated a timeline on when Stanaway might be fit to return to the team’s #33 Boost Mobile Holden.