The My Qi-Meritus.Mahara team has released further details of its second assault on the GP2 Asia Series, although it has stopped short of confirming the identity of the two drivers who will contest this year's expanded six-round schedule.
The Malaysian-based team, which will carry the numbers 18 and 19 this time around, continues to occupy the place filled by champions Racing Engineering in the 'summer' line-up, and will continue to campaign cars previously owned by Alfonso de Orleans' team. Sponsors again include Qi and Questnet but, as with the driving strength, a major new title sponsor is still to be announced, although the team insists this revelation will come 'soon'.
The only truly Asian team in the GP2 Asia Series, Meritus boasts Malaysian and Saudi roots, with Malaysian team president Firhat Yuri Bin dato Mokhzani and Saudi chairman Raad S Abduljawad overseeing the operation that has won 27 Asian motorsport titles in its short history. It is currently leading no fewer than five 2008 championships, with Ross Jamison heading the FBMW Pacific standings, and Earl Bamber and James Grunwell split by just three points at the top of the Formula FV6 Asia Series.
"The [GP2] team was on a learning curve last year but, overall, we achieved a good result," Abduljawad noted, "We have ambitious targets for our second season in GP2 Asia, which should be helped by the synergy between the team, the sponsors and the team history and roots.
"We are proud that My Qi-Meritus.Mahara will be the first Arab-Asian team to compete at this high level and, with our continued participation in GP2 Asia, we have received more recognition in the area and more local support for our team. We have no doubt of our ability to be competitive at the front of the field."
Italian technical director Gianfranco Bielli will again use his 40 years of experience to ensure the Meritus cars are not only ready, but competitive, for the first race in Shanghai, where the 2008-09 campaign kicks off alongside the Chinese F1 Grand Prix.
"Our team is ready for an even more competitive 2009 GP2 Asia season," Belli insisted, "We have analysed our work from last year and hope to be able to improve on the overall package that we offer to our Asian drivers, as well as improving the technical abilities of our mechanics and engineers."
The team, which remains under the day-to-day control of founder Peter Thompson, expects to test a number of drivers during the 8-9 October tests in Shanghai before announcing its 2009 line-up. Luca Filippi and Sakon Yamamoto contested the inaugural GP2 Asia Series with Meritus, but expect at least one driver with less experience to be on board for the second campaign.