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Linda Mansfield, Restart Communications
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Costa Joins M1 Racing
For St. Pete Pro Mazda Doubleheader

DALLAS, March 20 - M1 Racing surprised the junior formula car ranks today by announcing that it will field a car for rising star Nicolas Costa in the season-opening doubleheader for the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires March 29-30 on the street circuit at St. Petersburg, Fla. 

Costa, 22, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, just may be a spoiler at the opener for the teams and drivers who took the headlines in pre-season testing. 

He certainly did just that during the 2013 season when he was on the podium in half of the eight Pro Mazda races in which he competed. Besides the four podium finishes he had a fifth and a sixth to boot. 

The podiums came on the street course at Toronto, the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and in both halves of the season finale at Reliant Park Houston. He was just 0.669 of a second behind the champion, Matthew Brabham, at the checkered in the last race of the year.

Costa will drive M1 Racing's #99 car at St. Petersburg with sponsorship from IMM (Impermeabilizacões), Alufama, Oakley and Inova Marketing Esportivo.

Costa earned the championship in the Italian Formula Abarth series and was the Formula Abarth European Series champion in 2012. Prior to that he was the champion of the Formula Future Fiat series in Brazil in 2010. He was the first Brazilian to join the Ferrari Driver Academy, and he has earned over 20 titles in karting.

"I'm very pleased for the opportunity that M1 Racing is giving me to join them at this event, and for my sponsors to be supporting me one more time," Costa said.  "Even though we skipped the winter tests and races, I'll work as hard as I can and I'm pretty confident that we'll be able to bring the team a good result in St. Petersburg.

"I'm excited to be racing again," he added. "It was not easy to spend the last three months at home, watching everybody else race!

"I've never been to the St. Petersburg event, not even to watch," he added.  "I'll have to learn everything quickly.  It's going to be a good challenge."

"We've been watching Nicolas for some time and we're very impressed," said Paul Mata, who owns the Dallas-based team. "It's not going to be easy, but we're all going to try our best to produce some strong results. We certainly hope this is just the first of many successful races we'll have with Nicolas going forward."

The first challenge will be for Costa to get acclimated to the car, the set-up and the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course as quickly as possible.  There are just two 30-minute practice sessions at 8:35 a.m. and 3:35 p.m. on Friday, March 28 before qualifications at 11:45 a.m. Saturday, March 29. The first 40-minute race is scheduled to get the green flag later that day, at 5:35 p.m. Saturday, March 29. The second 40-minute contest is set to get the green flag at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, March 30.

Live timing and scoring of the practice sessions, qualifying and the races are planned for the series' Web site at ProMazdaChampionship.com.

Highlights of the St. Petersburg races are scheduled to air on the NBC Sports Network from 1:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. ET May 24 and on Motors TV in Europe at 6:54 p.m. GMT June 3. 

M1 Racing has driver openings for other Pro Mazda events this year too. For more information, contact Mata at (214) 282-1646 or e-mail him at M1RacingInfo@gmail.com. Other info is available on M1Racing.co, the team's Facebook page and its Twitter feed. 

Costa's Web site is at NicolasCosta.com.br. He has a Facebook page too, and his Twitter handle is @NicolasCosta99.  His Web site is presented in both Portuguese and English. Costa speaks those two languages as well as Italian.