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Sebring: Tri-Point Motorsports race report

Podium Finish for Tri-Point Motorsports and MAZDA6 at Sebring World Challenge Touring Car Event March 24, 2005 -- After overcoming an early race miscue and then exhibiting fantastic racecraft in a charge to the front of the field, Jeff...

Podium Finish for Tri-Point Motorsports and MAZDA6 at Sebring World Challenge Touring Car Event

March 24, 2005 -- After overcoming an early race miscue and then exhibiting fantastic racecraft in a charge to the front of the field, Jeff Altenburg of Ellicott, City, Maryland placed his Tri-Point Motorsports MAZDA6 on the podium with a 3rd place finish at this weekend's World Challenge Touring Car event at Sebring International Raceway. After dominating much of the race, teammate Randy Pobst succumbed to an electrical gremlin that saw his #73 MAZDA6 entry finish 25th, and 2004 rookie of the year Dino Crescentini suffered a similar electrical problem that placed him 30th at the end of the event.

Qualifying Wash Out

Qualifying for the 2005 SCCA World Challenge Touring Car season opener had to be canceled due to torrential rain and areas of standing water on the circuit. The starting lineup was therefore determined by the practice times from the last session before qualifying. The order saw Altenburg starting his MAZDA6 on the pole, and earning the Air Force Reserve Pole Position Award, with teammate Pobst alongside; their quick laps in practice being less than a tenth of a second apart. Crescentini ran solid practice times that slotted his MAZDA6 in the 6th position for the starting lineup.

Race Action

The start of the 50-minute timed event was aggressive, and as the cars jockeyed for position entering turn one Altenburg's Tri-Point Motorsports #72 entry was tipped in the left rear quarter panel by the #43 Acura TSX of driver Pierre Kleinubing. The contact spun Altenburg toward the armco at the outside of the circuit where the car made solid contact. Altenburg was able to recover after much of the field had passed, and spent the remainder of the race skillfully slicing his way through the pack to finish 3rd. His beautifully executed pass of Nic Jonsson in the #27 BMW 325 on lap 18 earned Altenburg the GS610 Deeper, Harder, Longer Braking Award.

The front of the field saw multiple changes for the lead until Randy Pobst was able to hold that position for 8 laps in his #73 MAZDA6, and even began to steadily draw away from the field. Despite a clearly strong initial performance, Pobst's engine lost fuel pressure, and he had to park his MAZDA6 while leading on the fifteenth of eighteen laps.

Crescentini in the #74 MAZDA6 avoided the melee at the start and began to make ground on the lead pack of four cars having improved his starting position. However Crescentini's entry exhibited similar issues to Pobst's and he was forced to retire early from the event.

Quotes

Craig Nagler Tri-Point Motorsports Team Principal

"I'm glad to see that we were able to show solid speed in practice as well as in the race. Jeff did a great job to recover from that mess in turn one and gain some valuable points for Mazda. It's a shame we had issues with Randy and Dino's cars, because it was really looking like Randy might be able to take a win. The potential of the car is clear to see however, and we are looking forward to the next event."

Jeff Altenburg #72

"A third place finish is a great way to start the season. I had a great car as usual, and we dodged a huge bullet when we bounced off that guardrail at the start. The fact that we were able to continue with no problems is testament and tribute to the construction of my MAZDA6. I have to thank StopTech brakes for giving me the confidence to go for that last pass and earn the GS610 Deeper, Harder, Longer Braking Award.

Randy Pobst #73

"I'm thrilled to have a had such a great run in the Tri-Point Motorsports MAZDA6, and almost a win. I'm sure it is the first of many great races with this team. Craig Nagler has built a great car that I really enjoy driving, and I have to congratulate Jeff on a terrific comeback."

Dino Crescentini #74

"We had a bit of a rough weekend at the start, but once we got my car sorted out it was absolutely incredible. I was able to run really well in practice, and even though I had a bit of an awkward start to the race and dropped a couple spots, once I got my rhythm I was able to work my way back up the ladder. I was closing in on the lead pack when we had the problem, but the car was really good up to that point."

Sponsors

As part of their continuing quest to field the best cars in the SCCA World Challenge Touring Car Series, Tri-Point Motorsports wishes to thank all those that have and continue to support their efforts. Mazda, Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development, Racing Hart, Stop Tech, Recaro, Crocotile, Quarter Master, Ron Davis Racing, Hawk, Koni NA, and Pro Parts USA

Upcoming Events

The Tri-Point Motorsports squad travels next to St. Petersburg, Florida for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg the weekend of April 1-3, and then on to Road Atlanta the weekend of April 15-17.

For more detailed information on the SCCA World Challenge schedule or for more comprehensive results of the Sebring event, please log on to www.world-challenge.com.

-jms-

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