SCC: Turner Motorsports announces 2008 drivers

TURNER PUTS FORTH EXCITING DRIVER LINE-UP FOR 2008 Fresh faces join past champions for 2008 and season opener this weekend DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY - January 22, 2008 -- Defending Grand-Am Cup champions Turner Motorsport are back in...

TURNER PUTS FORTH EXCITING DRIVER LINE-UP FOR 2008

Fresh faces join past champions for 2008 and season opener this weekend

DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY - January 22, 2008 -- Defending Grand-Am Cup champions Turner Motorsport are back in the Koni Challenge series for 2008 with past champions behind the wheel as well as some fresh faces. The line-up of driving talent may be the most potent yet for the team that has won five road racing championships in the last five years.

Turner Motorsport M3s will again be competing for the championship in the Koni Challenge GS class. Bill Auberlen will be back behind the wheel for his sixth season in a row with the Turner team. Sharing driving duties with Auberlen in the #96 M3 will be Matt Alhadeff. Alhadeff has been a regular driver in Grand-Am for the last few seasons. He competed in the Daytona Prototype category in the Rolex Sports Car series in 2006 and 2007 and prior to that was driving BMWs and Porsches in the Grand-Am Cup series.

Jumping back behind the wheel of the #97 M3 will be another veteran Turner driver, Don Salama. Don is a multi-time champion in the Grand-Am/Koni series, earning ST titles in 2003 and 2006. In 2007, he moved up to the faster GS class in the #97 M3, scoring three top ten finishes. Salama will be paired with Bryan Ortiz, an exciting driver from Puerto Rico whose entry with Turner Motorsport has created a buzz on the Caribbean island. Puerto Rico, along with Central America, is a hotbed for racing. Turner Motorsport added fuel to the fire a few years ago when Bill Auberlen clinched the 2003 Speed Touring Car Championship on Puerto Rican soil.

Turner Motorsport will also be defending their 2006 and 2007 ST class titles with a pair of fresh California faces. VJ Mirzayan and Matt Bell join the pro ranks full-time after several very successful seasons racing BMWs. Mirzayan won the TCRA GT6 championship in 2004 and 2005. And in 2007 he won his class in nine of eleven events in BMW Club Racing. He also competed in six Koni ST races, finishing in the top ten in all but one. Matt Bell has been a close competitor to VJ in BMW Club Races, wheeling an ex-World Challenge 325i to several overall podium finishes on the West Coast. VJ and Matt were each overall winners in BMW Club Races in 2007.

The Turner BMW team has enjoyed tremendous success in the last few seasons, helped by the industry's leading performance brands -- H&R Springs, StopTech Brakes, Motul Lubricants, Pagid Brake Pads, Borla Exhaust, and Piloti Driving Shoes. These long-time sponsors and partners of the Turner Motorsport BMWs have made large contributions to the 5 championships that the team has earned in the last five years.

The 2008 season kicks off this week in Florida at Daytona International Speedway. Last year the team put all three of their BMWs in the top ten in their respective classes.

Bill Auberlen scored a podium finish last year in the #96 M3: "Daytona will always be a horsepower track and that favors the Mustang V8s heavily. We're blessed with the braking and handling of the BMWs and that allows us to make up a little of the difference in a three hour race. But the American muscle will be tough to beat here."

The Daytona event is the first in a year-long chase for championships in two Koni Challenge classes. Eleven rounds of the season are scheduled with the second race a long ways off in May at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. The Turner crew plans to fill that four-month break by adding one or two BMW E90 chassis to the team.

-credit: tm

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Series GRANDAM