Team 18’s DEWALT Racing and Toyota Forklifts Camaros completed the Sandown 500 with Mark Winterbottom and Michael Caruso of DEWALT Racing finishing 11th, while Scott Pye and Warren Luff of Toyota Forklifts came home in 21st place.
Both co-drivers took the start of the race at 2:15 pm, with Michael Caruso starting 13th and Warren Luff in 21st. Caruso’s lightning start allowed him to jump two rows ahead into Turn 1, and a clean first stint further propelled him into the top ten.
The excitement continued with a safety car on Lap 19, prompting both Luff and Caruso to dive into the pit lane for a double-stack pit stop. Caruso’s strong performance had him sitting in an impressive third position on track.
As the race progressed, both cars pushed onward until reaching the minimum lap count required for the co-drivers. Under green flag conditions, they made their pit stops to hand over the reigns to Winterbottom and Pye.
Winterbottom emerged from the pit stops in sixth place, and despite a fierce battle for tyre life, he eventually finished in 11th place at the chequered flag.
On the other hand, Pye and Luff faced their own challenges, including tyre life issues and balance problems during their third stint exacerbated by an issue in the pit lane, but demonstrated their resilience to take the chequered flag in 21st.
RESULTS & QUOTES
Mark Winterbottom/Michael Caruso: 11th (Fastest Lap: 1:10.5239)
Scott Pye/Warren Luff: 21st (Fastest Lap: 1:10.8630)
Mark Winterbottom, driver #18 DEWALT Racing Team 18 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
“It was a really tough weekend.
“Our car speed was a struggle but in the race it was going okay, even with the tyre life our race pace was quite strong.
“Out of all the co-drivers out there, I genuinely think [Michael] Caruso did an amazing job, he was a standout today. I’m very lucky I’ve got Michael in the car, he got us in a good position but a few little things held us back, but we survived and learnt a lot.”
Michael Caruso, co-driver #18 DEWALT Racing Team 18 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
“I thought we had good pace, obviously we got up in a good position, but a couple of pit stops and penalties and difficult things that were out of our control.
“All-in-all, Mark and myself feel really comfortable inside the car and we generate the same feedback, which is really helpful because we don’t really lose any track time, so that’s a big advantage, and going into Bathurst, we’ve got six hours of practice, so really feeling positive in this combination and the team as well so we can go up there and have a crack at the big one.
Scott Pye, #20 Toyota Forklifts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 (with Warren Luff)
“It was a really tough weekend. We didn’t stop trying, we tried to improve the car throughout the week, but we just didn’t find any car speed. On both sides we did struggle, there’s no denying it.
“Our car speed in the race was very much the same but we had some, some big errors in the pit lane. We unfortunately put the old tyre back on the rear left and it meant I did 60-odd laps on one tyre. We went a couple of laps down by doing that and then that was kind of our day done. I only did one stint until that happened and unfortunately, that was it.
“We tried our best. We didn’t give up as a group. We worked our backsides off this weekend but just a few too many things that we didn’t get right.
“We’ll come back at Bathurst. It’s 500 kilometres today, so there was plenty of opportunity for it to go our way, but unfortunately, these days happen, that’s motorsport, we’ve got to pick ourselves up now, debrief this, spend some time going through the mistakes. I know there was a few today. We will do our best to get on top of those and then come back at Bathurst, tick some of those boxes that maybe we missed today and hopefully get a result.
“Luffy did a great job. Obviously his hands were a little tied as the car speed was not where it needed to be, but he still did a fantastic job, kept the car straight, handed it back to me pretty much where we started and then obviously we had our issues, but huge thank you to him.
“Looking forward to getting back to the mountain with him as well. As always, he does a great job there so we’re looking forward to the Bathurst 1000 next.”
Looking ahead, Team 18 turns their attention to The Great Race, the Repco Bathurst 1000, on 5-8 October.