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- New MAZDA3 Rally Car to be Unveiled for 2005 Rally Season -

IRVINE, Calif. - The Rally America Championship series has a sleek new contender vying for the top spot in the 2005 rally season. Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) and Burmeister Rallysport today announced the MAZDASPEED team's return to the 2005 Rally America Championship with the all-new MAZDA3 rally car, to be unveiled prior to the Oregon Trail Rally in April. With the addition of the MAZDA3 rally car, the Burmeister Rallysport MAZDASPEED team will move up to the unlimited two-wheel drive Group Five class for the 2005 Rally America Championship season.

"The MAZDA3 rally car will give other contenders quite a run for their money this year and is sure to add to Mazda's motorsports pride points for 2005," said Steve Sanders, manager of MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development. "We are very excited to be involved with the new Rally America series, and we look forward to seeing the Burmeister Rallysport MAZDASPEED team race to even greater heights with the new MAZDA3 rally car."

Eric Burmeister, owner of Burmeister Rallysport and driver for its MAZDASPEED team, piloted his Mazda Protegé to class wins in 2002, 2003 and 2004. The team will begin its 2005 season with its accomplished Protegé in the Group Two class at the first race of the season, the snow and ice covered Sno*Drift Rally in Atlanta, Mich. After the Sno*Drift Rally, the team heads to Oregon in April with the new MAZDA3 rally car and sights on a new championship. Co-driving for Burmeister this year will be Dave Shindle, a top-notch co-driver with experience in both the United States and Canada.

"We have assembled a team of what I believe are the most capable people in the nation for this project," said Burmeister.

After the Burmeister Rallysport MAZDASPEED team races its all-new MAZDA3 rally car in Oregon, it will continue with the car to Pennsylvania and then the famous Pikes Peak Hill Climb in Colorado. From there, the team heads to Maine and Minnesota, finishing the season with a trip back to Colorado followed by the season finale, the Lake Superior Rally in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The Rally America Championship series is a "stage" or "performance" rally series that stretches across the nation. Competitors race flat out against the clock for hundreds of miles on a course of back roads closed to the public. A co-driver uses pace notes to describe the course in tremendous detail to the driver via a helmet-mounted intercom system.

Mazda North America Operations is responsible for the sales and marketing, customer parts and services support of Mazda vehicles in the United States. The company's cars are involved in more road races and autocrosses than those of any other brand. Mazda is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., and it sells its vehicles, parts and service through more than 700 dealerships nationwide.

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