The saga over Minardi's participation in the Melbourne Grand Prix took another dramatic twist ahead of Friday's second free practice session, when Paul Stoddart announced that he would take his case to the Victorian Supreme Court.

The matter of his chase of Jean Todt's signature appeared to become academic when the FIA stewards told Stoddart that his cars would not be allowed to run if fitted with 2004-spec bodywork. Stoddart, whose cars did not run in first practice, had gone into the meeting optimistic that the situation would still be resolved in his favour, but left disappointed and frustrated.

"I have to say I complement the stewards for their fairness," the Australian said, "They are somewhat at a disadvantage because the famous Concorde Agreement is not a document that they are normally privy to seeing. It's not something that they can read in ten minutes. A judge is probably far better qualified to adjudicate on these issues on their behalf.

"I've got to stress that this is purely an issue between Minardi and a stewards' decision, and is a very complicated legal issue. It is not in any way, shape or form going to impede this fantastic event."

Stoddart conceded that, as a last resort, the team would attempt to convert the cars to 2005-spec. The team has two sets of parts, which means there is very little leeway should either of his drivers do any damage.

"We'll try," he sighed, "I'm not sure we're going to make that, but we'll try. Expect the midnight oil to be well and truly burned tonight if we have to go that way."



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