Saab and Salomon Host International X-Adventure Raid Series

     'Saab 9-2Xtras' team to compete in Bend, Oregon race June 11-13    NORCROSS, Ga., June 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Endurance athletes from 14 nations are competing in the 2004 X-Adventure Raid Series, presented by Saab and Salomon.  Each of the four stages, held on a different continent, can be called "The equivalent of Mt. Everest in two days."  Top teams will battle for the prestigious World Cup, and a chance to qualify for this year's week-long Raid World Championship.  Swedish automaker Saab continues its partnership with action sports equipment company Salomon in sponsoring this series of uniquely challenging outdoor adventure racing competitions in some of the most beautiful locations around the world.  The X-Adventure Raid Series is the only international adventure race series of four identically regulated races, each offering a world-class field of mixed teams the opportunity to earn points towards an overall ranking and qualify for the annual Raid World Championship, to be held Nov. 28-Dec. 5 in Patagonia, Argentina.  The second qualification race in the competition will be held June 11-13 in Bend, OR, only a few hours from Salomon's US headquarters in Portland. Among the approximately 50 teams will be the Saab 9-2Xtras, captained by Patrik Riese, director of Customer Relationship Management at Saab Cars USA in Norcross, and an accomplished marathon runner.  Other team members are Somer Bokatzian, Saab marketing coordinator, Kurt Schirm, Saab dealer principal from International Motors in Falls Church, VA, and Phil Schwartz, a Saab owner from Elkridge, MD.  Inspired by Saab executives Knut Simonsson and Michael Mauer, who raved about their participation in the 2002 Swedish stage, Riese wanted to experience first-hand the exciting and demanding sport sponsored by the company.  "We've named our team the 9-2Xtras after our newest model, the Saab 9-2X," Riese explained, "because this car is perfect for the outdoor adventurer.  It embodies high-performance with full-time all-wheel-drive, precision handling, outstanding driver control and a high level of utility and versatility with its five-door body style."  More than 50 teams will compete in the series of four X-Adventure races, each two-day competition covering 100-145 miles of varied mountainous terrain by foot, mountain biking, inline skating, canoeing, rappelling, and other outdoor sports disciplines while strictly respecting the natural environment. Albeit physically extremely challenging, the X-Adventure Raid (Rare Adventures, Intense Discoveries) Series is a unique experience, requiring both teamwork and team spirit, in a variety of weather conditions, often on the same day.  A race typically covers mountainous terrain that includes ascending an accumulated total of 13,000 to 30,000 ft.  While some of the competitors are full-time, sponsored athletes, others are dedicated amateurs.  But the rules are the same for everyone.  Each team has four members, at least one of whom must be a woman.  Three members of each team compete in each stage and must not become separated, and the woman team member must compete in at least eight of the 11 stages.  Severe time penalties are imposed for breaking this or any other of the strict rules.    The 2004 season began in May amidst the rugged Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Series Two is set for June 11-13 in the heart of the Cascade Mountains, Oregon, home to some of North America's most active volcanoes.  In one of the longest contests of the season, the competitors will face 142 miles of trail running, mountain biking, canoeing, inline skating and rock climbing/rope works.  The race starts in Mount Bachelor, the youngest volcano in the Cascades range and one of the premier snow sports areas in Oregon.  The finish line is in Bend, along the western border of Central Oregon's high desert plateau and is bounded to the east by the mighty Ponderosa pines of the 1.6 million-acre Deschutes National Forest, one of the most popular forests in the Pacific Northwest.          2004 Saab-Salomon X-Adventure Raid Series Calendar     May 7-9           Atlas Mountains, Morocco     June 11-13        Bend, Oregon, USA     July 9-11         Les Arcs-Courmayeur, France/Italy     September 3-5     Kalbarri, Australia       Raid World Championship:     Nov. 28-Dec. 5    Patagonia, Argentina     For Saab, the partnership represents a further shift away from conventional, mass marketing to a more focused, experience-oriented communication strategy.  For Salomon, a world market leader in action sports equipment, footwear and clothing, the association further extends its brand appeal, allowing it to accelerate the development of unique, new sport competitions.  Commenting on the global partnership, Knut Simonsson, Saab Automobile's brand director, said, "There is a natural synergy between the Saab and Salomon brands.  We both have high quality, innovative products and appeal to individualistic customers who like to make their own decisions in life, including their choice of sport."  "The structure of our partnership allows us to develop what we call 'experience marketing.'  Brand exposure at international and national level are followed up by local interactive events, involving Saab dealers, our sponsored teams and opportunities to learn more about Saab cars or Salomon products."  Saab Cars USA, Inc. is the importer of Saab 9-2X, 9-3 and 9-5 automobiles for Saab Automobile AB, Sweden.  For more information on Saab cars, visit http://www.saabusa.com .  For more information on the Saab Salomon X-Adventure Raid series, visit http://www.theraid.org .     SOURCE  Saab Cars USA, Inc. /NOTE TO EDITORS:  For additional media information, visit http://media.gm.com ./  /CONTACT:  Kevin Smith, +1-770-279-6360, Colin Price, +1-770-279-6362, or Dan Prescott, +1-619-749-8900, all of Saab, or +1-800-GET-SAAB/        /Web site:  http://media.saab.com                 http://media.gm.com                 http://www.gm.com                 http://www.saabusa.com                 http://www.theraid.org /   (GM)  CO:  Saab Cars USA, Inc.; Salomon ST:  Georgia, Oregon IN:  AUT SPT SU: -0- Jun/09/2004 13:03 GMT    
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