Motorsport News magazine
Russell Ingall will be driving a Falcon in 2003 - and beyond.
Motorsport News understands that, despite claims that "nothing is finalized," the Enforcer will end his seven-year association with Holden and has already agreed terms, if not actually signed a contract, with the Ford Motor Company for a three-year deal.
Aware that the company will be losing Ingall, Holden management is reputedly making plans for the future, tailored around Ingall driving for Ford.
As would be expected, Ingall denies that there is any deal done;
"There is still an option with Holden teams but, at the end of the day, it's a matter of what is best for Russell Ingall,"he said.
But, while reliable MN sources are confirming that deal (said to be worth about $1.5 million for three years) is done, it is yet to be decided which Ford team will gain the services of the two-time Bathurst winner.
Ingall, like Marcos Ambrose and Craig Lowndes, will be contracted directly to Ford and a decision as to where he will drive will be taken by Ford once factors, such as the future of 00 Motorsport, are settled.
Some media are speculating that Ingall is destined for John Briggs' CAT Ford team, said to be a favoured choice of Ford Racing boss Howard Marsden. However, Marsden is also reported to have virtually confirmed his retirement at the end of this year and there are other serious options.
With the future of 00 Motorsport in a state of flux following the potential involvement of the British-based Prodrive organisation, a final driving line-up for the 2003 V8 Supercar season is yet to be settled.With Neil Crompton on a single year deal, Ingall could well end up partnering Lowndes in a Prodrive-owned 00 Motorsport 'Superteam' indeed MN can reveal that Ford made a serious bid last year to snatch Ingall for 2002.
Another feasable option sees existing Ford signee Ambrose moving to 00 to pair with Lowndes, with Ingall taking the spot at Stone Brothers Racing. And there is, of course, the Shell team.
Ford is said to have been keen on signing Ingall not just for it's racing effort but to include him in its compaign for the new Falcon codenamed 'Barra', which is due to hit the market in October and which, in line with AVESCO policy, will be raced in the category next season.