Contact: Eric McCombs (925) 998-8277

Raphael Matos, Graham Rahal Signed to Champ Car Atlantic Deals

December 21, 2005. Raphael Matos, winner of the 2005 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, has continued his winning ways to capture a seat with Sierra Sierra Enterprises for the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship, beating out a field of accomplished drivers including Hoover Orsi, the 2001 Atlantic series Champion.

"I am glad to be part of Sierra Sierra," said Matos. "It was great to sit down in the car last week and complete some very fast testing. I believe this is the best team with the best program in the Atlantic championship and we have what it takes to lead in this year's series."

Matos joins Sierra Sierra Enterprises, which has competed previously in the Star Mazda Championship, after leading the 2005 Star Mazda Championship from start to finish in his Ocean Tomo Racing sponsored Mazda after a dominating start with four consecutive race wins to open the season. The Belo Horizonte, Brazil, native finished seventh in the 2004 Star Mazda Championship and was also the 2003 Skip Barber Formula Dodge National Champion.

Former Atlantic Champion David Emperingham expects Matos to continue his winning ways, “We have found a diamond in the rough," said Empringham. "Raphael is a natural-born racer with raw speed, intense focus, the ability to provide accurate feedback, a hunger to win and a great personality. He is unquestionably championship material and I believe we could not have found a better and more deserving driver to represent Sierra Sierra in our quest for the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship."

Matos will see a familiar face in the championship as fellow 2005 competitor Graham Rahal, who finished fourth in the championship in the Bobby Rahal Automotive Group Mazda has been announced as the driver for the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Atlantic effort. Matos and Rahal joined each other on the podium three times (Sebring, Montreal, Road Atlanta) in 2005.

About the Star Mazda Series

The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear has become the most competitive open-wheel development series in North America. Featuring the Pro Formula Mazda, which features a carbon-fiber chassis, six-speed sequential gearbox, and a 240-horsepower Mazda rotary powerplant, the series has helped propel the careers of drivers such as 2004 Champion Michael McDowell, now driving in ChampCar and a race-winner in the GrandAm Series; 2002 Champion Guy Cosmo, who along with fellow Star Mazda graduate Jamie Bach was named 2005 Rookie-of-the-Year in the American LeMans Series, and 2002 race winner Scott Speed, who will line up on the Formula One grid next season.