Tri-Point Motorsports Put Two MAZDA6s in Top Ten at Road America Touring Car Race After a hard fought and competitive SPEED World Challenge Touring Car race at Road America there were two of Tri-Point Motorsport's immaculately prepared blue and...
Tri-Point Motorsports Put Two MAZDA6s in Top Ten at Road America Touring Car Race
After a hard fought and competitive SPEED World Challenge Touring Car race at Road America there were two of Tri-Point Motorsport's immaculately prepared blue and white Mazdaspeed MAZDA6 racecars well into top ten finishing results. The #73 entry of sports car ace Randy Pobst of Gainesville, Georgia finished fourth at the checkered flag, while teammate Jeff Altenburg of Ellicott City, Maryland advanced from his tenth place qualifying position to cross the finish line in sixth in his #72 MAZDA6. Dino Crescentini of Malibu, California saw his fortunes change after a strong eighth place qualifying for the Road America race, as he was unable to take the green flag due to a mechanical failure.
Making the Grid
The Road America event schedule placed qualifying and race both on Saturday, and with laps taking some two and a half minutes, the pressure to get a solid qualifying lap together without risking damage to the car was of paramount importance. Pobst, who has qualified on pole previously at the daunting and historic Road America circuit in World Challenge GT competition in 2004 hammered out a 2:27.508 lap to secure a fourth place starting position.
Crescentini who seems to have some new found speed as of late with his #74 MAZDA6 again placed in the top ten in qualifying as he hustled to a 2:28.129 lap time that was good for an eighth place starting position in the twenty three car field.
Altenburg was only able to manage a tenth place qualifying spot with a lap of 2:28.257, making it the first time this season that he has qualified outside the top nine. Altenburg was confident however, that the race performance of his #72 MAZDA6 would be decidedly stronger.
Closing the Gaps
As the red lights went out for the start of the scheduled 45-minute race, there was a mad dash for the very quick turn one section at Road America. The first five laps of the 17-lap event were marked by frantic race action with plenty of drafting opportunities down each of the three longest straights that set up some impressive outbraking maneuvers and side by side racing.
Pobst, who dropped back at the start spent much of the race working his way back to fourth and was embroiled in a race long battle with the Dodge SRT-4 of Rob Holland and the Acura RS-X of Eric Curran. Pobst, who clearly had the handling advantage over the Dodge was unable to match the turbo charged straight line speed of the Neon based machine which finished third. More importantly however, Pobst was able to catch and pass Curran's Acura to dispatch the highest placed Acura driver in the race to fifth place. Effectively, Pobst helped Mazda close the gap in the manufacturer's title chase as his saavy pass of Curran coupled with the second place finish of Tindol Motorsports MAZDA6 driver Charles Espenlaub gained Mazda much needed points.
Pobst also finished well ahead of series points leader Pierre Kleinubing, and the result allowed him to close the gap by five points in the driver's title chase.
Altenburg again moved forward in the race, and in spectacular style as he doggedly hunted down Realtime team leader and principal Peter Cunningham and made the outbraking move of the race into turn one late in the event. From tenth on the grid, Altenburg kept moving forward and finished sixth at the checkered flag.
Crescentini, after qualifying a very strong eighth, rolled out for the reconnaissance laps but immediately suffered a mechanical problem and was forced to park the car before even taking the start. The turn of events was a harsh outcome for the newest member of the Tri-Point driver squad who has shown signs of serious speed throughout his time in the World Challenge ranks and who has recently displayed that obvious ability on a consistent and competitive basis.
Jeff Altenburg #72
I've got to get the qualifying monkey off my back soon! The car was good for the race and I was able to make up a few spots. After a race long battle with PD, I got him going into turn one and made it stick. My brakes were stout today thanks to Stop Tech and my car chief Jason gave me a perfect car to race with. The turbo cars showed their legs today, so there wasn't much more we could do. Mazda made up some ground in the championship so it was a good day overall.
Randy Pobst #73
The car definitely handled well this race. I had a weak start with some wheelspin, and a few guys got by me, but fortunately the handling was good enough that I was able to make up those positions again. I was very pleased with Craig Nagler's (team principal and manager) set up on my MAZDA6. The car was good over the course of the race, and in fact I was able to turn my fastest lap at the end of the race which is very unusual. I was able to get back by Curran (Realtime Acura) because my car was so good toward the end. They (SCCA officials) made a small (performance) adjustment to the Acuras, but I think our good weekend was a combination of the handling set up and the fact the MAZDA6 is good on some of the longer tracks. We are still in a strong position for the championship, and it was a good weekend for Mazda, Tri-Point Motorsports, and me personally.
Dino Crescentini #74
This sure isn't how I thought things would turn out this weekend. The Tri- Point guys gave me a great car in qualifying and I thought that things were starting to really come together here for me. The car was handling great, we had good power, which is important here at Road America, and I was excited about what we could do in the race. Not entirely sure what happened on the recon lap but something broke. We'll take a look at the car and see what it is all about.
Up Next and Info
The Tri-Point Motorsports team heads to Mosport outside Toronto, Canada the weekend of September 1-3 for the eighth round of the 2006 World Challenge Touring Car series. For more information on the upcoming Mosport race, or to see more comprehensive results of the Road America race, log onto www.world-challenge.com. You can also check out www.tripointengineering.com for information on one of the Touring Car paddocks best prepared teams and for expert information on Mazda race cars.
-credit: tripoint motorsports