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VIR: Touring Car round two preview

SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Championships SCCA SPEED Touring Car Round Two Bosch Engineering Weekend VIRginia International Raceway, Alton, Va. Event/Circuit: Bosch Engineering Weekend VIRginia International Raceway ...

SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Championships
SCCA SPEED Touring Car Round Two

Bosch Engineering Weekend
VIRginia International Raceway, Alton, Va.

Event/Circuit: Bosch Engineering Weekend
VIRginia International Raceway
17-turn, 3.27-mile road course

Qualifying: SPEED Touring Car: Friday, April 25, 3:20 p.m. (EDT)

Green Light: SPEED Touring Car: Saturday, April 26, 4:10 p.m. (EDT) (standing start)

Race Length: SPEED Touring Car: 19 laps or 50 minutes (whichever comes first)

Television: SPEED Touring Car: Wednesday, April 30, 1 p.m. (EDT) (on SPEED)

Media Notes: Results are available on the AP SportsWire, via e-mail and on the Internet (www.world-challenge.com).

Timing/Scoring: Live Timing & Scoring and lap notes via the SCCA® Pit Board are available for all sessions through www.world-challenge.com.

THE MOST RELEVANT ROAD RACING IN THE WORLD

Now in its 19th consecutive year, SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge has built its legacy around providing fans the most competitive road racing in the world, and the series has earned well-deserved praise the past few years from publications such as Car & Driver and RACER Magazine for doing just that. But what really sets SPEED World Challenge GT and Touring Car apart from all other series is the "everyday" element it brings each event. World-class drivers piloting production-based cars that come from more than 15 auto manufacturers -- it's a formula that has and will continue to serve the interests of manufacturers, drivers and, most importantly, automotive enthusiasts and race fans.

VIRy Entertaining

Returning to a track after a six-year absence is nearly the equivalent of racing at a new one. The cars have changed, the track surface has changed and the tires have changed. You could even say the drivers have changed. Some may be more mature, others may have lost their edge and of course, there are a few who have never raced here before. The 50-minute sprint format remains unchanged as does the signature standing start. Mix those elements with the previously mentioned unknowns and we might just have an explosion on our hands.

The results from the 2002 SCCA SPEED Touring Car race at VIR show Pierre Kleinubing and Jeff Altenburg in the top two spots, a scenario that could still play out six years later. Altenburg is the defending Champion in the No. 1 Mazdaspeed/Stoptech/Racinghart MAZDA6. Kleinubing spent most of 2007 chasing Altenburg in the points and tasted victory in this year's season opener at Sebring in the No. 43 Acura/RealTime/Eibach/Red Line Acura TSX. Chances are good that the two will once again be sparring partners at VIR.

Partnering Altenburg at Tri-Point Motorsports are veteran Mazda racer Charles Espenlaub in the No. 73 Mazdaspeed/Stoptech/Racinghart MAZDA6 and 2007 Mazda MX-5 Cup Champion Jason Saini (No. 74 Mazdaspeed/Stoptech/Racinghart MAZDA6). The trio are dead-set on keeping the SCCA SPEED Touring Car Manufacturers' Championship Presented by RACER with Mazda for the second year in-a-row.

Meanwhile, Kleinubing and the rest of RealTime Racing are aiming to put the Manufacturers' Championship back in Acura's hands. They're already off to a good start. At Sebring, Kleinubing was followed across the finish line by teammate Kuno Wittmer (No. 44 Acura/RealTime/Eibach/Red Line Acura TSX) and team owner Peter Cunningham (No. 42 Acura/RealTime/Eibach/Red Line Acura TSX). It was the second-consecutive podium sweep for RealTime counting the 2007 season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

RealTime will also have to fend off the talented Tindol Motorsports team if they're hoping to keep Mazda off the podium. Five-time World Challenge Champion Michael Galati (No. 95 Mazda North America/Tindol MAZDA6) was a pivotal part of Mazda's Manufacturers' title last year when he won in the rain at Road Atlanta, clinching Mazda's first Championship a round early. The team has added Chip Herr (No. 97 Tindol Motorsports MAZDA6), whose World Challenge career began with a Mazda Protege in 2004, to its lineup this year. Herr had some teething problems with his new ride at Sebring and is out to redeem himself this weekend.

The hometown favorite this weekend is BimmerWorld Racing out of Dublin, Va. The team is hoping to whip up some hometown magic and get a win in the books for 2008. Driving the No. 34, 36 and 38 BimmerWorld BMW 325is, Nick Esayian, James Clay and Seth Thomas have shown time and again that they have the speed to win, but always seem to have one piece of the race-winning puzzle missing, that piece usually being luck. Hopefully home track advantage will put them at the front of the grid after qualifying, reducing their chances of any race incidents.

Another BMW driver has a local connection this weekend. Jason Martinelli in the No. 8 Goodhill/Torrington Supply/Litco BMW 325i is a former Virginia Tech football player. Every weekend, Martinelli disproves the stereotype that only multi-car teams with high-dollar cars can do well in SCCA SPEED Touring Car. He had a top-ten finish at Sebring, adding to the two he scored last season before a shoulder injury took him out of the final two rounds.

Another single-car entry, Patrick Lindsey in the No. 57 Horton Motorsports/Sloan Securities MAZDA 6, will have the big teams checking their mirrors this weekend. Lindsey is currently battling Mazda compatriot and Tri-Point driver Saini for Rookie of the Year honors.

-credit: www.scca.com

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About this article
Series PWC
Drivers Michael Galati , Peter Cunningham , Charles Espenlaub , Jeff Altenburg , James Clay , Nick Esayian , Kuno Wittmer , Jason Martinelli , Seth Thomas , Jason Saini , Patrick Lindsey
Teams RealTime Racing , BimmerWorld Racing