IT'S OFFICIAL: FORD-POWERED INGALL TO ENFORCE WITH SBRRebel racer Russell Ingall made just one New Year's resolution after inking a lucrative contract with Ford-powered Stone Brothers Racing: to win the V8 Supercar championship.
"My expectations for 2003 are winning a championship - nothing more and nothing less," Ford's newest star said today.
"I am sure Ross and Jimmy Stone have not hired me to muck around for a couple of seasons.
"Over the years I have proven I know how to nearly win a championship in a car probably not capable of doing so. >From what I have seen so far, I will definitely have the equipment to do the job in 2003."
V8 Supercar fans logged onto the SBR website last night, one minute into the New Year, to confirm what they already knew: the twice series runner-up has defected from Holden to drive for the Queensland-based Ford team next season.
Now free of his contract with Larry Perkins' Castrol outfit, 'the Enforcer' was paraded in Caltex colours at today's official Gold Coast launch.
Caltex announced a three-year contract extension with the team, while pledging support for the man forced to make way for Ingall, David Besnard.
Besnard is set to announce a new Melbourne-based Ford mount in the coming weeks, with the backing of Caltex.
SBR also unveiled Ingall's weapon: a striking new-look Caltex Havoline BA Falcon.
The aggressive livery design is reflective of its pilot; a win-at-all-costs racer according to his new boss.
"Russell has earned himself a reputation of being a fast and aggressive driver," Ross Stone said.
"We believe that Russell will be a great asset for our team as we head into the new season with a brand-new BA Ford race car and championship aspirations.
"We certainly have a lot of work to do before now and the first round, but I feel we have a terrific pairing in Russell and Marcos [Ambrose]."
Ford boss Geoff Polites is expecting big things from his latest racing investment, too.
With recent Blue Oval recruit Jason Bargwanna, and former Holden star Craig Lowndes well into a multi-year deal, Ford can now at least match the General in driver talent and popularity.
"His driving capabilities are only really matched by his personality," Polites said of Ingall.
"We're sure that Ford fans will make him feel welcome and support him for exactly the same qualities they've cursed in the past."
Ingall isn't concerned about the reaction from jumping V8 Supercar racing's vast manufacturer divide, nor worried about the competitiveness of Ford's long-awaited BA racer.
"To be honest, I don't think there are too many big hurdles," he said. "In that respect, it is probably a perfect time to be changing. It is all about timing as they say.
"All the cars, be it Ford or Holden, will be different this year, so there will be some learning for everyone who is updating."
The team's BA Falcons are due to hit the track early next month for pre-season testing.
--V8 WIRE (Jason Whittaker)
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