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Pre-season newsletter 2005-02-11

RUSSIAN AGE RACING JOINS FIA GT Cirtek Motorsport has competed in the FIA GT Championship every year since the start of the Championship in 1997. The team had its best result in 2002, with a podium finish for Romain Dumas and Adam Jones in the...

RUSSIAN AGE RACING JOINS FIA GT

Cirtek Motorsport has competed in the FIA GT Championship every year since the start of the Championship in 1997. The team had its best result in 2002, with a podium finish for Romain Dumas and Adam Jones in the final race of the season, at Estoril. Rob Schirle has announced that Cirtek Motorsport will be running a Ferrari 550 Maranello in the 2005 FIA GT Championship, under the name Russian Age Racing. The car will be driven by the two Russian drivers, Nicolaj Fomenko and Alexei Vasiliev, and by triple FIA GT Champion Christophe Bouchut. "Cirtek is very pleased to have been chosen to lead this new age of Russian Motorsport. It is a long term project, with a two-year deal having been signed, and we hope to carry on working together for many years, with both our objectives and theirs being met. We certainly want to be seen as a major factor in GT Racing and in the FIA GT Championship in particular."

The team will receive the car on February 21st, and will be running a test session in the United Kingdom before taking part in the official launch and test day for the 2005 season at Monza on March 22nd. "Nicolaj tested the car and loved it," Rob continued. "Vasiliev is a quick driver, and it is a major boost to have Christophe on board. There

DUBAI GT TEAM LAUNCH AT DUBAI AUTODROME

Middle East Aston Martin unveiled the new DRB9 GT racing car at the Dubai Autodrome, announcing plans to launch a Dubai-based racing team to compete in GT series across Europe, Asia, the USA and the Middle East.

The planned Dubai GT Team will consist of two DRB9 cars, a fleet of hand-picked engineers and the best drivers the Middle East has to offer, including HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum. The Dubai GT Team is due to make its race debut at the Dubai Autodrome during the FIA GT Championship race in November 2005, before racing in earnest in 2006.

RAM RACING FOR 2005 FIA GT CHAMPIONSHIP

Polish team RAM Racing is due to take part in a limited campaign in the 2005 season of the FIA GT Championship. The team will also be competing in the Polish GT Championship, which clashes with Silverstone and Spa.

They will enter a Saleen, which was formerly the yellow car entered by Konrad Motorsport, and which was a frequent pole setter, in the hands of first Jean-Marc Gounon and then Walter Lechner Jr. The car, in its new livery, will be driven by Polish drivers Max Stanco and Rafal Janus.

Although Janus is a relative newcomer, having started racing just a year ago, he HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum said : "This is a tremendously exciting time for Aston Martin, Dubai and motor-racing enthusiasts the world over. The creation of the Dubai GT Team provides Dubai with a fantastic opportunity to promote itself in key markets around the world, continuing the Dubai dream. We must also give recognition to this superb track, which has allowed us to even have the dream, and has proven yet again that Dubai can provide a world-class venue and attract world competition. The announcement today of the Dubai GT Team represents the first step that Dubai is taking in order to advance by performance driving and motorsport in the region." "GT Racing is one of the world's fastest growing motorsports, watched annually by millions of viewers," Thomas Kastgen, CEO of Middle East Aston Martin explained. "Our Dubai GT Team will be seen around the globe, firmly placing Dubai as a motorsports competitor on an international level."

"Our cars are currently in production, so we are using this valuable time to put together a highly skilled team of mechanics, engineers and drivers who will be able to compete with the best in the world and take us where we ultimately want to be - winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans," said Marco Savoizzi, who will lead the Dubai GT Team.

Stephane Ratel, promoter of the FIA GT Championship, was present for the launch : "This project is extremely important for us, as the future of the FIA GT Championship as a Global Series relies on our ability to generate teams and drivers in the countries we are visiting.

We want to create a true Global series, instead of being seen as a European Championship racing abroad." won the Polish Endurance Championship with Stanco last year, in a Porsche 911 GT2.

Stanco, the son of a well-known architect, started his sporting career in ski-ing. He moved to motorsport in 1982, first with a motorbike and then started racing cars in 1999, in the Polish Championship, with a BMW M3 E36 GTR.

He won the Polish Championship in 2003, in a Porsche 911 GT2, and also took part in a number of rounds of the FIA GT Championship. In 2004 he won the Polish GT Championship in both the Sprint and Endurance categories, as well as competing in the European Alfa Challenge. RAM Racing plans to take part in as many FIA GT Championship rounds as possible. There is a close cooperation between RAM and Konrad Motorsport, dating from 2000, when Max Stanco bought a Porsche 911 GT2 from Konrad. Both teams should test at Misano on 1-3 March.

RAM Racing was created at the end of last year by Rafal Janus, Max Stanco and Andrea Mancini - who will drive in the European Alfa Challenge. The team manager will be Dawid Bedkowski.

TWO PORSCHE 996 FOR GRUPPEM RACING IN 2005 FIA GT

British team GruppeM Racing plans to enter two cars in the 2005 FIA GT Championship.

GruppeM Racing put in an excellent performance in last year's British GT Championship, winning the title with 18-year old Jonathan Cocker.

The team also competed in the latter half of the FIA GT season, with a podium at Donington, a fine performance at Spa and points finishes in Dubai and Zhuhai, placing them fifth overall in the Teams classification, despite only competing in four rounds.

The two Porsche 996 GT3 RSR cars will be driven by Marc Lieb and Mike Rockenfeller of Germany, with Tim Sugden and Emmanuel Collard in the second car.

Three of the four drivers have FIA GT experience. Marc Lieb was the 2003 N-GT Champion with Stephane Ortelli. Emmanuel Collard drove with Ortelli last year, finishing as runner-up. Tim Sugden claimed wins with EMKA Racing in 2003, and raced for GruppeM last year. This will be the FIA GT debut for 21-year -old Mike Rockenfeller of Germany, a Porsche Carrera Cup Champion and Porsche factory driver. Kenny Chen, Team Principal of GruppeM Racing, is delighted with the news:

"It is important to remember that 2005 will be only the third full season of competition for the team, to have achieved the Grand Slam in the British GT Championship last year and now to have secured the factory support deal is a stunning performance. I am really looking forward to our first full season in the FIA GT Championship and hope we can continue Porsche's proud tradition in GT racing not only in the FIA GT Championship but also in 2005 LMES Series and in the 2005 Porsche Infineon Carrera Cup Asia."

"A legacy of the EMKA days"

Tim Sugden is delighted to be part of the Gruppe M squad for the 2005 FIA GT Championship. "It's fantastic - a chance to fight for the Championship in a global series, I'm really looking forward to it." He will drive with Emmanuel Collard, his team-mate at EMKA Racing for the second half of 2003 : "We did some good races together, and won in Sweden. We get on really well; he's good fun, a quick driver, and we like the car set up the same way." As for the team's position as the leading Porsche team, Tim is also very pleased. "This is real recognition for the good job Kenny has done over the past twelve months.

Also, it is really nice to see this as a legacy of the EMKA days. Gruppe M has really taken on the spirit of EMKA, as well as some of the personnel. Steve O'Rourke was close to making a deal like this one before his death, so this is an excellent way to remember that."

AN UPDATE ON TELEVISION FOR 2005

There will be live coverage of the FIA GT Championship on Eurosport for a number of races, including Magny-Cours (live start/finish), approximately five hours of live coverage for the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, while the Istanbul race will be covered live for the full, two-hour duration.

The newly launched Eurosport 2 channel, which covers 30% of Eurosport's network will have more LIVE coverage; Monza, Silverstone, Imola, Brno, Oschersleben will be covered for the full duration of the races.

Furthermore, it has been possible to take advantage of a shorter slot during prime viewing time on the Sunday evening whenever possible. This will ensure that the FIA GT Highlights programmes are seen by as many TV viewers as possible. This 26-minute programme will be shown in addition to an 8-minute GT preview, broadcast between the two FIA WTCC races. When the FIA GT Championship is not racing alongside the FIA WTCC, the usual 52-minute primetime program will be broadcast.

Proton Motorsport, the German team which has taken part in more rounds of the FIA GT Championship than any other, will be back for another season in 2005. The father and son team of Gerold and Christian Ried had their best season to date in 2004, when their Porsche 996 GT3-RS finished in the points in every The Ried family have a near perfect FIA GT record. With 83 races having been run to date, Gerold Ried has been on the entry list for all but five of them. Christian joined the Championship in 1999, as a 19-year-old, and has already accumulated a score of 55 races. Proton Competition originally raced a Porsche 911 GT2, changing the car for an N-GT category Porsche 996 GT3 in 2003.

Since then, Proton Competition has gone from strength to strength, claiming their first podium at Monza last year.

-fia-

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