Jeff Altenburg scores flag-to-flag victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. September 10, 2003. Monterey, CA. After coming close to the top step of the podium several times this season, Jeff Altenburg captured his long anticipated first victory in...
Jeff Altenburg scores flag-to-flag victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
September 10, 2003. Monterey, CA. After coming close to the top step of the podium several times this season, Jeff Altenburg captured his long anticipated first victory in SCCA Speed World Challenge Touring Car competition, leading every lap in his Tri-Point Motorsports Mazdaspeed Protege at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
"You can't ask for a better situation than what we had here this weekend," an excited Altenburg exclaimed. "With the pole position, an all Tri-Point front row and then to come out victorious at Mazda's home track, after all the support they have given us, makes this a dream weekend. It's also a great way to thank the crew for all the hard work they've done all year."
Matching Altenburg's excitement was Tri-Points Motorsports owner Craig Nagler, who was equally pleased to provide Mazda with a win on their home track. "If you have to capitalize on one race, this was definitely the track to have the results," He said, adding, "Jeff and Shauna have been in the thick of the action all year and it feels great to be back in victory lane."
Though it looked easy to those watching in the stands, Altenburg had to work to earn the victory, holding off a challenge from defending champion Pierre Kleinubing at the start and then outpacing Bill Auberlen over the closing laps with a balking gearbox. "At the start of the race I just wanted to hold onto the lead and took a pretty good hit in the rear but managed to hold onto the position," Altenburg explained.
"Kleinubing was right there in the first half of the race before the yellow flags came out and then on the restart Auberlen was able to move into second so I couldn't let my guard down. About five laps from the end my gearbox starting giving me trouble, making it hard to shift into second and fourth, but I was able to adapt, and though I was losing time initially I was able to build up a small lead again over the last couple of laps."
While Altenburg was holding onto the lead, Shauna Marinus was fighting to get back to the front after being nudged off track in turn six on the opening lap, after another stellar qualifying session had her joining Altenburg in the front row. "I was at the exit of turn six when one of the Nissan drivers got into the side of my car and turned me sideways," Marinus said. "It killed my momentum for the run up the hill to the corkscrew and I dropped back to eighth place."
The contact to the left rear wheel upset the alignment and Marinus would spend the rest of the race fighting understeer as she battled her way back to sixth place by the end of the race.
Today's victory propels Altenburg to sixth in the championship points battle while Marinus sits just outside of the top ten in eleventh place with two events remaining in the 2003 season. Round Nine of the championship will be held at Road Atlanta as part of the Petit Le Mans weekend on October 15-17. Today's race will initially air at 2:00 p.m. (EDT) Saturday, Sept. 20 on Speed Channel.
For More information on the Tri-Point Motorsports efforts in the SCCA Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship please visit www.tripointengineering.com.