Tri-Point Motorsports Slips a Bit at Wet and Wild Mosport Touring Car Weekend With rains from hurricane Ernesto drenching the daunting Mosport circuit on and off for much of the Labor Day weekend, it was anybody's guess as to how the Sunday ...
Tri-Point Motorsports Slips a Bit at Wet and Wild Mosport Touring Car Weekend
With rains from hurricane Ernesto drenching the daunting Mosport circuit on and off for much of the Labor Day weekend, it was anybody's guess as to how the Sunday afternoon Speed World Challenge Touring Car race would go. When it was all said and done the rain soaked circuit proved uniquely challenging, and Tri-Point Motorsports drivers Randy Pobst, Jeff Altenburg and Dino Crescentini were classified as having finished 7th, 10th and 23rd respectively. With only two races remaining in the 2006 Touring Car season, the Tri-Point crew will be working hard to gain points in the driver and manufacturer championship races that will be going down to the wire.
A Good Start
The weekend started strongly for the blue and white Tri-Point prepared Mazdaspeed MAZDA6s, especially the #73 of Randy Pobst, as he topped the timing sheets in both practices sessions before qualifying. Randy turned a 1:30.139 in the opening practice and then backed that up with a 1:29.876 in practice session two and appeared ready for another strong qualifying session.
Qualifying started on a wet track that began to develop a dry a line as the session went on. The track conditions were not quite what they had been during the practice sessions and although Pobst did not top the timing sheets this time, he did place the car a competitive 4th on the grid with a 1:31.327 around the 2.459-mile natural terrain road course. Dino Crescentini hustled the #74 Tri-Point entry to a 1:32.164, good for 12th for the start, and Jeff Altenburg stopped the clocks at a 1:32.664 which placed him 15th in qualifying. Altenburg, not used to being so far back in the field knew his car would be good for the race and looked forward to moving up to the sharp end of the field once the race started.
Soggy Race Day
Showers that came and went throughout race day made picking a proper set up for the car a real gamble, and few tracks offer the challenges in wet conditions that are present at Mosport. Pobst got a brilliant start and was able to work his way into the lead before the end of the first lap. However, the all-wheel-drive STaSIS Audi A4 of Chip Herr, with its clear grip advantage in the wet conditions, was able to get back by Randy. As the race continued, it became clear that the choice of set up on the #73 entry may have been one that made the handling of the car difficult in the conditions. Pobst did what he could but eventually fell back to seventh at the checkered flag.
Crescentini appeared to be having a potentially solid run in his #74 MAZDA6 until an off and then back on in the high speed and bumpy turn two area. Dino did well to get the car back on track, as turn two is famous, especially in the wet, for claiming its share of race cars. Despite his recovery, Crescentini finished 23rd and two laps down.
Altenburg started well and kept his nose clean, and began to slowly but surely move forward in the field. By staying out of trouble Altenburg was able to make up five positions and took the checkered flag listed in 10th. It was a good rebound for the #72 entry, as this was the first time this year that Jeff had qualified outside the top ten.
Jeff Altenburg - Ellicott City, Maryland - #72
There was actually some pretty good grip considering the conditions, but taking advantage of that grip was a bit tougher than expected. We really don't have any wet weather experience with these cars, and while we obviously softened up the car, the set up could probably have been better.
Randy Pobst - Gainesville, Georgia - #73
My MAZDA6 was great in qualifying and the Stoptech brakes were super in the rain. I got a great start and actually had the lead on the first lap, which I'm very happy about. We were gambling with the set up on my car though, hoping that it would dry out, which it did about a half hour after the race!! During the race I had a bit of wheelspin at the exits which made me a little vulnerable down the next straight. It was a very challenging race, and I really feel that I got everything that the car had to offer today.
Dino Crescentini - Malibu, California - #74
Actually, I thought qualifying went well and I was having a decent run in the race. Unfortunately, I had a pretty big off in turn two. I got the car back on track, but I lost a few positions and really the car wasn't quite the same after that.
Pobst, with a firm hold on second in the driver's championship points race trails series leader Kleinubing by 24 points at 238 to 214.
Altenburg is in a tight battle for sixth in the championship with Eric Curran as he holds 156 points to Curran's 154.
Crescentini, who lies 15th now with 68 points could conceivably vault himself up to 13th with some good finishes at Road Atlanta and Laguna Seca before the end of the year.
Mazda now trails Acura 59-45 in the manufacturer's points chase, and will need some very strong finishes at the last two events to challenge for the championship.
The World Challenge series will be at Road Atlanta as part of the American Le Mans Series' crowning jewel event - the Petit Le Mans weekend to be held September 27-30. The final race of the 2006 Speed SCCA World Challenge Touring Car season will be held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey, California the weekend of October 19-22. Be sure to log onto www.world- challenge.com for more info on the upcoming races as well as info on the Mosport event.