RUSSELL INGALL TO MOVE ON IN 2008
Former V8 Supercar champion Russell Ingall has announced that he will end a five-year partnership with Ford and Stone Brothers Racing on December 13.
Ingall, who won the 2005 championship for Ford and SBR in his Caltex-backed Falcon, will make his last appearance for the Blue Oval at the final round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at Phillip Island in Victoria this weekend.
Ingall has been released from his current Ford contract a year early to pursue other opportunities, which will be announced next month.
"I have to thank everyone at Ford Australia and Stone Brothers Racing for their support over the past five years," said Ingall.
"In particular, I would like to thank (Ford President) Tom Gorman for his on-going friendship and his understanding of this current situation which has allowed me to be released from my contract a year early.
"Opportunities have presented themselves on the 'other side' and Tom (Gorman) and (Ford Motorsport Manager) Ray Price have been good enough to allow me to explore those options -- there will be more on that in the coming weeks.
"I have to thank Ross and Jimmy Stone and everyone at SBR for giving me competitive race cars during our five-year relationship, especially in 2005 when obviously we managed to win the championship.
"I also have to thank the Ford fans for their tremendous support over the past five years and hope they will understand my reasons for moving on."
Ironically, Ingall's last start for Ford and SBR will be at the same track where he wrapped up his 2005 title.
"Phillip Island has many special memories for me, especially that Sunday in 2005 when we finally got the job done after being runner-up four times," said Ingall.
"This weekend will be another emotional one for other reasons, but, as they say, nothing lasts forever.
"We are just outside the top 10 of the championship and hopefully we can punch our way back in this weekend.
"I will be wanting to win this weekend has much as I wanted to win my first race for Ford back in 2005."
Ingall joined Ford in 2003 when he was contracted by Ford and Stone Brothers Racing to drive the Caltex Falcon.
At his first ever race weekend with Ford, Ingall won the non-championship support event at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.
A few months later he won his first championship round for Ford at the Queensland 300 and then backed that up with a round win at the Lexmark Indy 300 on the Gold Coast.
In 2004 he finished second in the championship to his teammate Marcos Ambrose and then in 2005 he finally clinched his first title after having been runner-up four times previously.
He currently sits 11th in the championship and is looking to maintain his record of being the only driver to have finished in the top 10 of the championship in everyone of its 11 years.