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Saturn Motorsports has released its 2005 team lineup which includes Charlie Schafer as Head of Team Operations and puts Sport FWD hero Jason Hunt in the seat of its Pro FWD ION and Brian Ballard as the pilot their new Saturn Redline Sport FWD ION.

Schafer, owner of The Car Doctor, a general repair shop in Falls Church, Va,, spent five years as a crewmember with Lisa and Gary Kubo and was a key figure in their championship seasons. He extensive expertise in both business and the Sport Compact scene.

"Charlie is the perfect candidate to oversee our new two-car team," said Motorsports Director Jim Epler. "Not only does he have a winning background as a crewmember for the Kubos when they ran independently, but also with our company in 2004. Charlie knows every inch of our Pro FWD car and his background as a business owner is invaluable. His handling of team operations will free up a good portion of my time to spend with sponsors and also concentrate on the performance parts aspect of our business, particularly the development of turnkey packages for Saturn's first high-performance cars, the Redline and ION."

Schafer said he looks forward to continuing his tenure with Saturn Motorsports. "We had a great season and I'm really excited about running two cars next year," he said. "We'll definitely be racing for championships but we're also looking to set more performance milestones for Saturn Motorsports and all our sponsors. In 2004, we broke the seven-second barrier and 200 mph is still up for grabs and the better we do in racing, the greater compliment we are to the performance parts side of Saturn Motorsports."

Epler's enthusiasm for Schafer's appointment is clear by his selection of drivers and the history they share with Schafer.

"Jason Hunt brings a lot of racing experience to Saturn Motorsports," noted Epler. "He knows how to race and win so he's definitely ready for a quicker and faster ride and we're very excited to put him at the wheel of our Pro FWD ION. For our new Redline Sport FWD, Brian Ballard was definitely our first pick. He was one of the most consistent drivers in the sport and caught our attention long before he nailed the 2004 NOPI Turbo 4 Championship. Jason, Brian and Charlie have been very involved in each other's careers over the last few years and have a great friendship and working relationship - a strength that should help shorten the inevitable learning curve we face when players change."

The 2005 season will mark Hunt's seventh season in sport compact racing with the last four years spent in Turbo 4. He has a total of 30 final-round appearances (14 of those in 2004) with 20 career wins, 10 of those just this past season. In addition to being the driver of the first 9-second FWD street car, Jason was crowned the Imstar Street Renegade Champion in 2002 and championship runner-up in 2004 in the NOPI Turbo 4 class.

Hunt commented, "I think the Ecotec is a great package with more potential than Honda power and I'm very excited to be a part of Saturn Motorsports racing program."

Ballard, also recruited from the Honda/Turbo 4 ranks for Saturn Motorsports' freshman season in Sport FWD, is the reigning 2004 NOPI Turbo 4 XBOX Champion. Ballard's impressive resume includes 24-career final rounds (14 of those in 2004) and 14 career wins with 8 of those this past season en route to his first ever championship. Just like his teammate, taking the wheel of the Saturn Motorsports Redline will be a new experience for Brian as well.

"The Ecotec motors have proven themselves very capable in the Pro classes and it's going to be very exciting to see such a powerful engine in a street car," Ballard commented. "I'm very confident the Ecotec-powered Saturn Motorsports Redline ION will allow me to successfully defend my championship."
 
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