Bonaccorsi leads Tri-Point charge at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Saturday, September 21, 2002. Monterey, CA. Under perfect racing conditions Paul Bonaccorsi vaulted up to third in the SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship points battle...
Bonaccorsi leads Tri-Point charge at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Saturday, September 21, 2002. Monterey, CA. Under perfect racing conditions Paul Bonaccorsi vaulted up to third in the SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship points battle and the Tri-Point Motorsports crew helped move Mazda closer to the top in the Manufacturers Championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
With two victories under their belts this season the Tri-Point Motorsports team was charged up as they came to the spiritual home of Mazda's motorsports efforts in North America. "The crew worked really hard in between races getting the Protegés just right for this weekend," Bonaccorsi said, "We really wanted to follow up our victory at Mosport with another one this weekend."
Initial indicators proved to be positive for the team as Jeff Altenburg topped the charts during the initial testing sessions in his Tri-Point Motorsports Mazdaspeed/Proven Winners/Lancaster Mazda Protegé. "The car was hooked up right from the start," Altenburg said, "and I was looking forward to the race."
Before the race though the cars had to get through qualifying, always a tricky prospect with over forty cars on the track, and even more so on the demanding Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit. Shauna Marinus and Paul Bonaccorsi came through relatively unscathed, qualifying fourth and fifth respectively, however a run-in with Taz Harvey would find Altenburg frustrated in eighth place for the traditional standing start.
The start of the twenty-five lap race proved to be a mixed bag for the Tri-Point team with Bonaccorsi getting a dream start to move up into third place on the opening lap while trouble in turn two shuffled Marinus and Altenburg down into eighteenth and fifteenth positions. "I was just trying to protect my corners at the start when somebody got into Will Turner and then I got collected as well," Marinus said, "I was able to reclaim some of the positions during the race but ran out of laps."
While Bonaccorsi was battling up front, Altenburg, also shuffled back in the first lap incident, was slicing his way through the field, working his way up to seventh place by the checkered flag. "The crew gave me a car that could've finished on the podium today if we had been able to start farther up the grid," Altenburg said afterwards. "Once again it was a pleasure working with everyone at Tri-Point Motorsports."
Bonaccorsi, locked in a race-long duel with Pierre Kleinubing, Peter Cunningham and Chuck Hemmingson, would find his podium aspirations slip away I the closing laps as his tires started to go away, dropping him down to fifth by race end, however fifth place was enough to move him up to third in the championship with two races left. "We are still in the championship hunt and looking to get Mazdaspeed and our new sponsors, Proven Winners and Lancaster Mazda, up onto the top of the podium at Road Atlanta and Virginia International Raceway."
Round ten of the SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship will be held at Road America, on Friday, October 11th. For more information on Tri-Point Motorsports please visit www.tripointengineering.com.