Tri-Point MAZDA6s Show Competitive Form in World Challenge Touring Car Sebring Season Opener It was a successful opening race to the 2006 SCCA Speed World Challenge Touring Car Series season for the Tri-Point Motorsports race team as ...
Tri-Point MAZDA6s Show Competitive Form in World Challenge Touring Car Sebring Season Opener
It was a successful opening race to the 2006 SCCA Speed World Challenge Touring Car Series season for the Tri-Point Motorsports race team as their electric blue and white MAZDA6 racecars took 2nd, 4th and 20th positions in Friday's 17-lap event at Sebring International Raceway. A 33-car field was in attendance to tackle the bumpy and challenging 3.7-mile 17-turn Sebring racetrack that takes its toll on drivers and machines. The 50-minute timed Touring Car race was held as part of the American Le Mans Series Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring endurance race weekend.
A Good Start for the Season
The Sebring race weekend started well for the Tri-Point crew as returning Tri-Point driver Randy Pobst of Gainesville, Georgia took his #73 MAZDA6 to 5th on the timing sheets for the first practice session, and right on his heels was veteran Tri-Point driver Jeff Altenburg of Ellicott City, Maryland in his #72 entry. Dino Crescentini of Malibu, California finished out his first practice session in 20th position, but was confident that he could improve on his vehicle's balance and lap times. After the open test day and two practice sessions, a 20-minute qualifying session was held with Pobst slotting his car in 4th position with a lap of 2:20.152. Altenburg, who felt that he might not have gotten the most of MAZDA6 lined up 9th after the session logging a lap at 2:20.912, and Crescentini secured an 11th place start after a dramatic improvement in his lap times with a 2:21.506.
Racing for the Podium
At the start of the race Pobst moved up to third position and by lap three had made a pass for second place, which he would hold until the checkered flag on lap seventeen a scant 0.829 seconds behind race winner Bill Auberlen's Turner Motorsports BMW 325.
As had been characteristic of Altenburg's performances last year, Jeff deftly worked his way through the sharp end of the field to secure a 4th place finish while providing much of the race's best action. Altenburg completed one of the best passes of the race on lap six in the technical and quick back section of the circuit with a decisive out-braking maneuver on the #38 BMW 325 of Seth Thomas. Jeff then set up and passed the Realtime Racing Acura RSX of Eric Curran and the Tindol Motorsports MAZDA6 of Charles Espenlaub. By lap 11, Jeff found himself in fourth position, which he would hold to the end of the race.
Crescentini, who went off course in the daunting and technical turn 17 area, drove a clean race for the remainder of the event, but was unable to make up the deficit caused by the lap four miscue and was forced to settle for 20th position for the weekend.
Tri-Point Driver Jeff Altenburg #72
The team did a great job as always. I think we might have missed the set up just a bit in qualifying, and really, I probably could have gotten a little more out of the car. We made some changes before the race though, and I feel confident that with a better qualifying effort we probably would have had two Tri-Point cars on the podium. I definitely want to give the StopTech brakes on my car credit for giving me the ability to get by several cars. Also, we have a few new members on the team this season that have already settled in well. We made some good set up and chassis changes that I think will help us for the rest of the year.
Tri-Point Driver Randy Pobst #73
I really enjoyed driving this MAZDA6 this weekend. The car had a very good balance this weekend, which I think bodes well for the rest of the season. Really, with how strong our drive was this weekend it almost feels like I won, and I was happy that I was able to qualify well and get a strong start. The Tri-Point team has worked hard with me to develop a setup for the car that is quick and consistent throughout the race, and I also feel that the StopTech brakes on the car were an important part of our race performance today.
Tri-Point Driver Dino Crescentini #74
We started to get a solid set up underneath the car, and I was pretty happy that we were able to improve our lap times and get a decent qualifying effort in. Sunset Bend bit me a bit, and it was tough to make up the positions I lost at that point. The speed in the car is there though, and I'm looking forward to what happens in a couple weeks at St. Pete.