Mechanical woes dampen promising weekend at Mid-Ohio for Tri-Point Motorsports August 10, 2003. Columbus, Ohio. With podium finishes at both Road Atlanta and Infineon Raceway for Jeff Altenburg and Shauna Marinus, the Tri-Point Motorsports team...
Mechanical woes dampen promising weekend at Mid-Ohio for Tri-Point Motorsports
August 10, 2003. Columbus, Ohio. With podium finishes at both Road Atlanta and Infineon Raceway for Jeff Altenburg and Shauna Marinus, the Tri-Point Motorsports team came to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on a mission to capture the top two spots on the podium to kick of the second half of the season in SCCA Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship. While the prospects looked promising in the opening stages of the weekend, mechanical problems would knock both drivers out of the race.
The weekend started off with a bang for Tri-Point Motorsports with Marinus, seeking to become the first woman to win a World Challenge event, setting the pace in both practice sessions in her Mazda Protege with Altenburg also showing early speed as well, posting the third fastest time as they headed to the qualifying session. "I knew we were running well during the practice sessions, and it was great to be at the top of the time sheets," Marinus said. "Tri-Point had set-up our Proteges perfectly and our attention turned to qualifying."
The weather would hand Marinus and Altenburg their first setbacks of the weekend when rain prior to the twenty minute qualifying session dampened the 2.25-mile course. "Qualifying was a crapshoot, because of the drying track conditions," Altenburg explained. "The results all came down to who got the cleanest lap in traffic right at the end of the session."
Starting sixth and twelfth respectively, Altenburg and Marinus knew they would have their work cut out for them in the race, but with clear weather greeting them both were confident that they could work their way to the front.
After surviving the challenging standing-start procedure used by the World Challenge Series, Altenburg and Marinus began their climb up the standings. The mechanical troubles would first strike Marinus while working lap five as she was edging her way into the top ten when a braking problem would force Marinus off in the key hole section of the track. Though able to complete the lap she would retire from the race on lap six.
Altenburg would be able to stay in the battle much longer and had worked his way into third place, but all was not well with his machine either. As he moved through the field he had picked up a vibration in the car that continued to grow worse as the race progressed. Hopes that he could hold on to the end were dashed with three laps remaining when a wheel separated from the car, dropping him to twenty-sixth place in the final results.
"I think we're all a little disappointed right now," Altenburg said of the weekend's results. "Everybody at Tri-Point Motorsports has worked so hard all season long and our cars have been quick everywhere we go. A series of fluke problems have hit us when we could've finished on the podium. Still we've got four races left this year and we'll come back looking for race wins and to score manufacturer's points for Mazda."
Round seven of the 2003 SCCA World Challenge Touring Car Championship will be held at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, on August 22-23. For more information about Tri-Point Motorsports please visit www.tripointengineering.com.