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IRVINE, Calif., Jan 27, 2006 - MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development's 2006 season is set to pick up where it left off: with excitement, dedication and a drive for victory. As the 2005 season closed with victories in series as diverse as the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), Grand American Road Racing Association (Grand Am), Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), 2006 is already off to a strong start.

"MAZDASPEED is proud to represent Mazda's North American motorsport activities," said Steve Sanders , Manager, MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development. "Mazda's Zoom-Zoom mantra is more than just a marketing line; it really is the way we build our cars. Whether it's the RX-8, MAZDA 3 , MAZDA 6 or MX-5 Miata, we prove every single weekend on the racetracks of America that if you want to win, you need to be driving a Mazda."

With the first round of qualifying for the 2006 Rolex 24 at Daytona barely in the books, Mazda's racing teams are already making their mark. Leading the charge is the SpeedSource team, qualifying their brand-new Mazda RX-8 in fourth place of 39 qualifiers in the Grand Am GT class on the famed high-banks of Daytona International Speedway. Also putting in strong showings are the Goldin Brothers' Racing RX-8 and Team Spencer Motorsports' RX-8. And hopes are high for strong finishes after 24-hours as the true strength of the unique rotary engine used in the RX-8 is long-distance reliability.

In other early season action, Raphel Matos, the 2005 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear champion, turned his first laps in testing for the 12 Hours of Sebring. Matos recorded consistent laps behind the wheel of the BK Motorsports-entered ALMS P2-class car. Matos' drive was earned through his championship win in the one-make Star Mazda series, the most hotly subscribed open-wheel racing series in North America . He will graduate from the Star Mazda Championship and contest the Champ Car Atlantic Series next season, driving for Sierra Sierra Enterprises.

In other news from the Star Mazda Championship series, four more drivers also have graduated this year to other series: Marco Andretti will compete in the Indy Racing League with Andretti-Green Racing; Graham Rahal will join Matos in the Champ Car Atlantic Series with Mi-Jack Conquest Racing; Jonathan Klein will compete in the Infiniti Pro Series, also with Andretti-Green Racing; and James Hinchcliffe will compete in the Champ Car World Series, driving for Forsythe Racing.

On any given weekend, there are more Mazdas on the road-race tracks of America than any other brand of vehicle. Mazda's motorsport involvement even extends to the nation's premier road-racing circuit, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Mazda North American Operations is responsible for the sales and marketing, customer parts and services support of Mazda vehicles in the United States . Headquartered in Irvine , Calif. , MNAO has more than 700 dealerships nationwide.

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