PLENTY is said about the talent of drivers and car speed in the lead up to the Bathurst 1000 each year, but for Michael Caruso communication is just as important when trying to win the Great Race.
Caruso has finished in the top 10 in the 161-lap epic at Mount Panorama on five occasions, his most recent effort an eighth with Dean Fiore.
He will once again share his Nissan Altima with Fiore this year, but the bid for success involves more than just that pair. That is where communication comes into the equation.
“Team work is clearly very crucial, communication and obviously having car speed helps,” Caruso, who is sitting 16th in the Supercars drivers’ championship said.
“But communication is important. We take 40-odd people away to each event with us and every individual plays a crucial role in the end result.
“You’ve got to have your wits about you for a long period of time, particularly when you are sitting in a race car for up to three hours really, it’s important to keep your concentration and be at the top of your game.”
At the Sandown 500 last month a tyre failure five laps from the end saw Caruso’s entry drop from 14th to 21st.
But before then, higher fuel consumption and longer pit stops prevented the Altima from running further towards the front of the field.
It is something Caurso knows his team needs to rectify before Sunday’s Bathurst 1000.
“Our fuel economy put us out of the race,” he said of the first of the endurance rounds.
“We stopped a lot longer. Overall, we’re talking 30 seconds longer than everyone else over the course of the race. You’re instantly in a different league unfortunately.
“Yeah, every second does count at Bathurst. You wouldn’t think after six hours of racing it could be so close.
“The sport is ultra competitive at the moment and it just makes for a lot of making sure that no stone is unturned in helping you bring your A game.”
Though the return to the 2016 Dunlop tyre – one on which he qualified for the top 10 shootout last year – should help his cause at Mount Panorama, Caruso knows past 1000 campaigns don’t count for all that much.
“I think with Bathurst you can never really take much away from years gone by other than I guess the experience and knowledge that you learnt. But in terms of the result, there’s so much that goes into those results,” he said
“A six-hour race that runs over the course of a day is never straight forward, you’ve got to take it one step at a time throughout that day.
“Last year probably represents that best, who would have thought that a car that qualified 17th would win the race? It just goes to show that there’s a lot of things involved.
“Bathurst is the one occasion, no matter how you are going in the year - good, bad or indifferent - that you look forward to. It’s a special place and it presents a lot of opportunity.
“You actually get a chill up your spine just by getting to a race track.”