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Yokohama dealers get ad space on Mazda race cars

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Although all the cars ride on Yokohama Advan tires, there's still going to be a unique tire competition in the "2006 Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship, Powered by Mazda."

Yokohama Tire Corp. has given its prime logo position on the nose of each top Atlantic car to eight of its consumer tire dealers, with each retailer sponsoring three of the top 24 drivers in the 12-race series.

The dealers recently selected their drivers during a three-round blind draw (see below).

"This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to get our dealer network involved in the excitement of the Atlantic series," says Robert Dole, Yokohama product promotion manager. "The on-track action is always extremely close and exhilarating. Now, our network of dealers will have an additional rooting interest for the entire season."

Over the course of the season, dealers will receive updates following each race. All dealers with a driver still in the title hunt will be invited to the season finale at Road America.

The season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach begins Saturday, April 7. It will mark the debut of the new Swift 016.a chassis and the new Mazda MZR 2.3-liter, 300-horespower engine prepared by Cosworth Engineering.

The Atlantic series is a driver development program that has sent drivers to Formula One, Champ Car, IRL and sports car racing.

Former Atlantic drivers who have raced on Yokohama and advanced their careers include Jacques Villeneuve, Jimmy Vasser, Paul Tracy and Katherine Legge. The new Atlantic "stars of tomorrow" include former series champion Alex Barron, Alan Sciuto, Graham Rahal, Jonathan Bomarito, Robbie Percorari, Stephen Simpson, Andreas Wirth, James Hinchcliffe, Richard Philippe and Leonardo Maia.

Here are the sponsoring dealerships and their drivers in the race series:

Big O: Raphael Matos, Sierra Sierra Enterprises, Brazil; Danilo Dirani, Condor Motorsports, Brazil; Mike Forest, PR1 Motorsports, Canada.

Conrad's Tire Express: Richard Philippe, Forsythe Championship Racing, France; Luis Sciavo, Brooks Associates Racing, Austria; Daniel Gaunt, Newman/Wachs Racing, New Zealand.

Discount Tire: Alex Barron, Polestar Racing Group, United States; Norbert Seidler, Brooks Associate Racing, Austria); Alan Sciuto, Polestar Racing Group, U.S.

National Tire and Battery (NTB): Jonathan Bomarito, PR1 Motorsports, U.S.); Al Unser, MiJack Conquest Racing, U.S.; and Robbie Pecorari, Gelles Racing, U.S.

Tire Kingdom: Graham Rahal, MiJack Conquest Racing, U.S.; Stephen Simpson, Gelles Racing, South Africa; Joe D'Agostino, Newman/Wachs Racing, U.S.

Tire Rack: James Hinchcliffe, Forsythe Championship Racing, Canada; Simon Pagenaud, Team Australia, France; Ryan Spencer-Smith, NCDL Tech, U.S.

Tires Warehouse: Leo Maia, Forsythe Championship Racing, U.S.; David Martinez, US Racetronics, Mexico; Charles Hall, Transnet Racing, U.K.

Wheel Works: Andreas Wirth, Forsythe Championship Racing, Germany; James Davison, Team Australia, Australia; and Tim Bridgman, Jensen Motorsport, United Kingdom.

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