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Sears Point: Tri-Point debuts new touring car

Tri-Point Motorsports to Debut New Mazda 6 Speed Touring Car at Infineon this Weekend SONOMA, Calif. (July 16, 2004) -- After seven months of building and developing the new Mazda 6, in preparation for SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car ...

Tri-Point Motorsports to Debut New Mazda 6 Speed Touring Car at Infineon this Weekend

SONOMA, Calif. (July 16, 2004) -- After seven months of building and developing the new Mazda 6, in preparation for SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car competition, Tri-Point Motorsports' new race car will make its series debut with driver Jeff Altenburg, of Ellicott City, Md., behind the wheel at Infineon Raceway this weekend.

"The Mazda 6 seems to be a great car," Craig Nagler, Owner/Partner of Tri-Point Motorsports, said. "I can't wait to get it out there with all the other cars. Once we actually got going on it and started putting the car together, it took seven months to get to this point."

"The car show's great potential," Altenburg added. "It's obviously a beautiful car and engineered very well. I think it will be very competitive before too long."

The team is optimistic about the future of the Mazda 6 after putting the car to the test earlier this week at Buttonwillow. They turned the car loose on the Southern California track with the hopes that all of their months of hard work had paid off.

"It went very well," Altenburg said following testing. "It's a brand new piece. We worked it out very slowly. We made sure that we weren't having any major issues with the engine, transmission, the cooling system or anything like that. The car responded very well and we started pushing harder. We really didn't have any significant mechanical problems. We just really started on dialing in the setup. But, we haven't really taken many steps at all in that direction."

"We had no real issues with the car," Nagler said. "We're within a couple of tenths of the Protege [Tri-Point also runs a Mazda Protege in the series with driver Shauna Marinus, of Folsom, Calif., at the helm]. "We think we can find that in the car with more test time. You can tell just by watching the car that the suspension is a better upgrade from the Protege. Basically, we were just sorting the car out for things that might go wrong in the race. We didn't get a lot of time to set the car up. [The test] was mostly was shaking the car down and making sure everything was working the way it was supposed to. The rest of the weekend, we will go through and dial it in and get all the other little things dealt with."

While there still is some work left to be done in getting the car race ready for this weekend's SPEED Touring Car double race at Infineon, Tri-Point will spend the next few races, including next weekend's race at Portland International Raceway, trying to make the car more competitive.

"It's a little big and a little heavy," Nagler said of the car's current competitive state. "The power to weight is almost identical to the Protege dyno numbers. We think we've got a better chassis [with the Mazda 6], so if we can get it dialed in we should be okay.

"Basically, with the way the series has changed, it is getting more competitive. You have to do more homework and you have to be more prepared. You've just got to make sure that you have best prepared car out there to have a chance at running up front. There are so many variables."

"It is a much more substantial car," Altenburg said. "It's very stable. It's not as skittish as compared to the Protege. But, once we get the proper setup on it, it will probably go more toward that feeling. The basic platform of the car seems a lot more stable."

Both Nagler and Altenburg are optimistic that if they can get the car properly dialed in before the first SPEED Touring Car race Saturday afternoon they may have a shot at finishing in the top-five.

"We are hoping to be at least as competitive as the Protege," Altenburg said. "If we can be as competitive as the top Proteges are going to be, we'll be okay. So, we're hoping for a top-five. If we get lucky and finish on the podium, we would be happy with that."

If all goes well with the Mazda 6 that Altenburg is driving over the next couple of races, Tri-Point hopes that its second Mazda 6 will make its series debut at Mosport International Raceway with Marinus driving.

"I would love to have it ready for Mosport," Nagler said. "It just depends on how these next three races go and whether or not we get the time to go back and put it together. Basically, the car is built and it's painted. And, if we don't have any problems out here at these races [Infineon and Portland], we'll try for Mosport. If not [Mosport], I don't see why it wouldn't be at Road America. We'll get it out there somehow."

SCCA SPEED Touring Car takes to the track for race one qualifying at 5:25 p.m. Friday, July 16. Qualifying for race two is set for 10:50 a.m., Saturday, July 17. The green flag flies for SPEED Touring Car race one at 4:25 p.m. Saturday, July 17 and the green flag for race two will drop at 2:55 p.m., Sunday, July 18.

-scca pro racing-

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Series PWC
Drivers Jeff Altenburg