Tri-Point Motorsports MAZDA6s Fight Down to the Wire at Season Ending Laguna Seca World Challenge Event October 22, 2005 -- The stage was set for a classic battle at the 2005 SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Series season finale at Mazda...
Tri-Point Motorsports MAZDA6s Fight Down to the Wire at Season Ending Laguna Seca World Challenge Event
October 22, 2005 -- The stage was set for a classic battle at the 2005 SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Series season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and the race action on Sunday October 16 did not disappoint. The Tri-Point Motorsports squad of three immaculately prepared electric blue MAZDA6 touring cars showed up to do battle, and to help Mazda win the manufacturers crown for 2005. Although they fought down to the last laps of the fantastic event, the Tri-Point crew was forced to settle for second place in the manufacturers title chase by a scant 4 points. Tri-Point drivers Randy Pobst, Jeff Altenburg and Dino Crescentini finished 4th, 19th and 28th respectively in the 26-lap shootout on the challenging and beautiful natural terrain road course that is Laguna Seca.
Sorting the Cars Out
Under clear skies and fantastic conditions, the Tri-Point MAZDA6s took to the track for first practice on Friday morning at 9 am. Dino Crescentini of Malibu, California led the Tri-Point MAZDA6 trio during Friday practice, and by posting second quick time of the session made it clear early on that the Mazdaspeed machines were going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Jeff Altenburg of Ellicott City, Maryland led the Mazda charge during the second practice session by posting second quick time and again showing that the Tri-Point cars were prepared to take the title chase down to the wire.
Qualifying and Race Action
Qualifying for the final Touring Car race of the season was held Saturday morning, and as has become almost standard practice for him, Randy Pobst of Gainesville, Georgia put together another near perfect lap to secure an off pole front row start with a time of 1:37.015 around the 2.238 mile circuit. Randy's qualifying run in the #73 Tri-Point MAZDA6 fell just 7/100s of a second short of pole sitter Peter Cunningham's lap, and set the scene for a fantastic race. Jeff Altenburg slotted his #72 MAZDA6 entry in 8th with a lap of 1:37.738, and Dino Crescentini lined up his #74 MAZDA6 9th at 1:37.862.
At the start of the scheduled 45 minute event, the 38 car field made it safely through turn one. As the race progressed, Altenburg continued to move his #72 MAZDA6 up through the field from his 8th place starting spot, and by lap nine had placed himself in the top five right behind teammate Pobst. Altenburg, keenly aware that points for Mazda were critical, continued to move forward, passing Pobst for 4th on lap sixteen and then made the critical pass for third on the Realtime Acura TSX of Peter Cunningham on lap eighteen. Just as it appeared that Altenburg would be able to secure a podium and also close the gap in the manufacturers race, a rear tire deflated with only two laps left in the race. Altenburg was forced to slow, his final finishing position of 19th a heartbreaking result for such a terrific drive.
Pobst also had a strong race, and as he needed to do, hounded Cunningham (Realtime Acura) for the entire event. The two cars appeared to be very evenly matched, and the racecraft exhibited by two of roadracing's top drivers clearly showed why the SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Series is widely considered one of the best road racing series available. Despite numerous attempts to get by, Pobst was forced to settle for a hard fought 4th at the checkered flag.
Crescentini pitted early on lap seven, and despite running laps with competitive times for the remainder of the event, finished 28th.
A Season to be Proud Of
The Tri-Point Motorsports team was clearly a force to beat in this year's World Challenge Touring Car Series highly competitive field, and their performance throughout the year netted Mazda a close second in the manufacturers title chase, missing the win by a mere 4 points. The driver's statistics were equally impressive with Pobst finishing out of the top ten only once, while securing six top 5 finishes, two wins and four poles on his way to 2nd in the driver championship points race.
Altenburg grabbed pole once and finished in the top 10 six times, with three podium runs and a 6th place in the championship standings.
Crescentini, who seemed to be plagued by bad luck early in the season, started to see things turn around a bit mid way through the year. With six top 10 qualifying runs, four top 10 race finishes, and a 13th place in the final driver standings despite missing a race, Dino had a productive second season in Touring Car competition.
Craig Nagler - Tri-Point Motorsports Principal
We have had a great season. We knew this last race was going to be very tough. We made a set up change based on what we thought it would take to win. We missed a little on Jeff's car. Even though he could out brake our competitors into the turns, our set up was such that it unloaded the right rear tire too much causing excessive lock up, which then caused it to go down.
I would like to thank all our sponsors, as we could not have had the season we had without you. We are looking forward to even a better season next year.
Jeff Altenburg #72
My car was really hooked up for this race, although I think we might have been a bit aggressive on the set up. The Stop Tech brakes on my car were awesome as always, and let me pull off some of the really tough passes while chasing the Manufacturer's Championship. We knew this was going to be a very competitive season, and we certainly gave it our best shot throughout the year. I want to thank the whole Tri-Point crew for doing a great job all year, and also to Craig Nagler for fielding a great team. I also want to say that it was a pleasure working with Randy and Dino this year. We shared information and pushed each other to get better every event.
Randy Pobst #73
I think we had a good year all the way around. Of course, it would have been perfect to have given Mazda the manufacturers title, but we definitely served notice that the MAZDA6 is clearly a great race car, and Tri-Point Motorsports is a highly professional and competitive organization. I have to thank Craig for giving me the opportunity this year.
I had a good race overall, and I did everything I could to get by PD (Cunningham). We had a great race, with some side by side action in a few parts of the circuit. It would have been great to get by him and secure Mazda some more points, but overall I'm happy with the season, and I look forward to competing again in the World Challenge.
Dino Crescentini #74
There were definitely times this season when I had to wonder if there some type of storm cloud following me. But as things went on, we started to get some better qualifying runs and finishes. The MAZDA6 is a great car and Tri-Point is definitely a top-level team. Both Jeff and Randy were very helpful and gave me tips that helped me as the season went on.
After a successful 2005 SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car season the Tri-Point Motorsports race team recognizes the importance of all the sponsors that have supported them, and wish to thank the following: Mazda, Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development, Racing Hart, Stop Tech, Recaro, Crocotile, Quarter Master, Ron Davis Racing, Hawk, Koni NA, Pro Parts USA, and Race Sign Specialists.