Stone Brothers Racing's Russell Ingall is looking forward to a well-earned break after one of the toughest weeks of his V8 Supercar career which ended in the early hours of this morning.
Ingall faced the Confederation of Australian Motor Sports (CAMS) National Court of Appeal last night to protest a decision to exclude him from last weekend's final round of the championship and fine him $15,000 for bringing the sport into disrepute after an incident with Holden's Mark Skaife.
Ingall's appeal was dismissed, but his fine was reduced to $10,000. Ironically SBR was refunded just $1000 of the required $10,000 appeal fee, meaning that the whole process left SBR $4000 worse off before other expenses.
"We are obviously bitterly disappointed with the decision because we believe we had a solid case," said Ingall.
"While saying that, we accept the decision and now just want to put this whole event behind us and get on with preparation for 2004.
"I would like to thank the hundreds of fans who have sent me e-mails of encouragement in recent days and look forward to now celebrating Marcos' (Ambrose) championship win which was achieved by an enormous amount of hard work by everyone at SBR.
"Unfortunately this whole incident resulted after some actions out of our control. It simply should never have happened."
Ingall and Skaife came together exiting turn nine on lap 42 of Sunday's 64-lap race and the resulting contact forced Skaife out of the event. The HRT driver later gesticulated at Ingall on the following lap under the safety car.
After an official hearing which lasted late into Sunday night, Skaife was deducted 30 points and Ingall 70 by race stewards for the on-track incident.
Ingall copped his $15,000 fine and lost 150 points after being excluded from the race meeting for veering toward Skaife who had stayed trackside on the following lap. Skaife received a $10,000 and 75-point penalty for brining the sport into disrepute.
Both drivers also received a three-race ban suspended over 12 months for the incident. Either driver will miss three races if they if they are again found guilty of bringing the sport into disrepute.
Skaife has elected not to protest his penalty for the second infringement and earlier last night had his appeal about the 30-point penalty adjourned with the National Court set to consider new evidence on a date to be fixed.
The V8 Supercar National Court of Appeal was chaired by Mr Ian Percy, who was assisted by Mr Keith McKay and Mr David Turnbull.