Mazda MX-5: Team MER announces driver line-up

TEAM MER Announce Driver Line-Up For 2007 Mazda MX-5 Championship Several high-profile drivers join the TEAM MER roster for 2007 championship chase FORT WORTH, TX (January 22, 2007) --- Team MER (Motorsport Enterprises Racing) released today...

TEAM MER Announce Driver Line-Up For 2007 Mazda MX-5 Championship
Several high-profile drivers join the TEAM MER roster for 2007 championship chase

FORT WORTH, TX (January 22, 2007) --- Team MER (Motorsport Enterprises Racing) released today the tentative driver line-up for the 2007 SCCA Sirius Satellite Radio Mazda MX-5 Cup Series presented by Hankook. During the 2006 season, the team scored several victories as well as taking home the driver's championship with driver, Jim Daniels. Team MER easily scored a team championship by following it up with the runner-up position with Jason Saini and tied for 4th in the championship hunt with Deborah Loth. For the 2007 championship season, Team MER returns both Saini and Loth to the squad, but also add veteran racer, Forest Barber and 2006 Grand Am Cup GS Champion, Anders Hainer.

"It is great to have both Jason and Deborah back for 2007," said Shannon McMasters, majority owner of MER. "We are pretty proud to have both Anders and Forest in seats for this season as well. Anders is a proven winner and champion in Grand-Am competition and Forest has as much experience and success as anyone in the paddock in endurance racing. To have both a Grand-Am Champion and a Rolex 24-Hours winner joining the team is very exciting."

Saini will return after winning the final event at Road American in 2006 and catapulting to the runner-up spot in the final standings and building great momentum heading into the 2007 season. The driver works full-time with the MER operation at their shop at Motorsport Ranch near Fort Worth, TX and is looking forward to another strong season ahead.

"Last year was fantastic for such a young team," said Saini. "We assembled all the right people needed to come out a winner and due to their expertise and effort, the results were there. Our team is hard at work to begin testing soon and give all of our drivers and customers everything they need to go for race wins and another team championship in 2007. I am looking forward to working with Deborah again as well as welcome both Anders and Forest to the team."

After making the transition from winning SCCA Divisional Championships aboard a Dodge Viper, Loth easily showed the most improvement throughout the 2006 season, logging several top 10 finishes late in the season with a best finish of 4th at Road America that helped award her the "2006 Season Hard Charger Award" at the year-end banquet. Loth, a Fort Worth, TX native, took home a tie for 4th place in the championship standings thanks to her consistency with five of eight events finishing in the top-10.

Barber, also a Fort Worth native, has a stacked resume in prototype and endurance racing. He co-drove with Terry Borcheller during the inaugural Rolex Daytona Prototype season in 2003, taking the owner's championship and helping Borcheller to the individual driver's championship. He and Borcheller teamed up to take 2nd in the Grand Am Cup Series championship as well the same year. Barber then won the 2004 Rolex 24 Hours as a co-driver with Borcheller, Andy Pilgrim and Christian Fittipaldi and ran selected events in 2005 and 2006.

"Having driven primarily in endurance racing where 'first finishing' is the primary goal, switching to being focused on 'finishing first' will be a welcomed challenge," said Barber. "When choosing a team to work with, Team MER's expertise in putting together a championship effort was paramount as evidenced by their extraordinary success in the '06 Championship."

Hainer spent most of the 2006 season focused on winning the Grand-Am Cup Grand Sport championship for Turner Racing in only his second year in Grand Am competition. Hainer ran only a handful of MX-5 Cup events in 2006 as well, with podium finishes at both the Grand Prix of Trois-Rivieres and Miller Motorsport Park. Hainer may not compete in the entire championship in 2007 due to scheduling conflicts, but will likely compete for race wins in each event he enters.

"I am looking forward to working with all the drivers this season," said driver coach and team rep, Marc Miller. "We have a great roster of drivers that each bring a lot to the table to help one another. With the experience everyone has here, this would be the perfect environment to learn and get up to speed quickly."

Team MER is hard at work preparing race-winning MX-5 Cup cars for the 2007 season, with race seats still open for drivers interested in select events or the entire season. The team boasts an experienced staff, public relations & marketing services, design department, driver coaching and testing facility as well as a new transporter for the 2007 season.

-credit: www.motorsportenterprisesracing.com

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Series SCCA-PRO