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Former Maine Pro Skier Races in Dunlop Drivers Cup

AKRON, Ohio, Aug. 30, 2006 -- A former competitor and coach of the World Pro Ski Tour and Fryeburg, Maine, auto enthusiast has been selected to participate in the Dunlop Drivers Cup driving challenge.

Kevin Clarke, 50, a former pro skier with long ties to Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire ski country, will be competing against 11 other amateur drivers at the U.S. Regional Qualifier in Danville, Va., on Sept. 11-15. The sales manager for Maine Beverage of Augusta, also has worked as an announcer in ski racing and motorsports.

Clarke said the Virginia International Raceway event "is a perfect fit for my racing skills. Ski racing and motorsports are more alike than people realize. In both, you have to 'find the line,' use the apex as your turning point. You have to be smooth, clean, ahead of the game."

He drove a modified BMW E30 M3 and supercharged Chrysler PT Cruiser in two One Lap of Americas, a 4,000-mile endurance event on highways, country roads and racetracks. "Who knew sleep deprivation could be so much fun?" Clarke asked.

Clarke said he realizes Dunlop Drivers Cup is completely different from any other type of driving challenge. A unique competition, Dunlop Drivers Cup includes on track racing, autocross, off-road sport-utility, off-road all- terrain vehicle and motocross events to test the skills of hard-core driving enthusiasts.

Two two-driver teams from the three-day U.S. Regional Qualifier will represent Dunlop USA at the world Drivers Cup next year. The 10-day excursion is scheduled to travel through six European countries - with driving events in each nation - and finish on the African continent.

Janice Consolacion, brand planning manager for Dunlop in North America, said Cup organizers were impressed by Clarke's One Lap and road racing experience as well as his off-road motorcycle and ATV skills.

"Kevin's diversity in road racing, off-road motocross, karting and all- round car experience gives him an advantage over most other competitors. He also collects BMW sports cars, another natural fit for the Dunlop brand," Consolacion said.

Clarke said the drivers' challenge is another milestone in his lifelong love of the automobile. "My 5-horsepower mini-bike started it all. My first street-legal vehicle was a Kawasaki 250 Big Horn. When I discovered girls, I bought a 1960s Volvo 164. At 19, I bought my first BMW and have owned them ever since."

His most memorable automotive experience came when he was announcing the skiing finals in Sun Valley, Idaho. A friend, who had won a ride in the ultra- fast, $1-million-plus Bugatti Veyron to benefit the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, offered the prize to Clarke. The ski announcer won a coin toss and drove the luxury sports car "very quickly up the mountain."

Clarke said he would use a "fast, controlled and consistent" driving style in Virginia. If he could add any feature to a vehicle or his Kawasaki KLX400, it would be "a perpetual fueling system, so I never have to stop."

European Dunlop officials started Drivers Cup in 1998 to showcase Dunlop's racing heritage and its broad range of passenger, truck, motorcycle and all- terrain-vehicle tire lines. Dunlop SP Sport Maxx ultra-performance tires and Mud Rover off-road tires will be featured in the competition.

Dunlop is a global tire brand with an excellent reputation among performance car enthusiasts. Well known for its prestigious original- equipment fitments and sports car racing heritage, Dunlop is also a key supplier to sport compact enthusiasts featuring "tuner" tire sizes and race series sponsorships.

Clarke entered Dunlop Drivers Cup after seeing an item in AutoWeek magazine. For more on the U.S. team, go to www.dunloptires.com.