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Road Atlanta II: Touring car race notes

Kleinubing drives flag-to-flag to win speed Touring Car race at Road Atlanta. BRASELTON, Ga. (Oct. 17, 2003) -- Pierre Kleinubing, of Brazil, captured his third victory of 2003 with a flag-to-flag drive to win the SCCA Speed World Challenge ...

Kleinubing drives flag-to-flag to win speed Touring Car race at Road Atlanta.

BRASELTON, Ga. (Oct. 17, 2003) -- Pierre Kleinubing, of Brazil, captured his third victory of 2003 with a flag-to-flag drive to win the SCCA Speed World Challenge Touring Car race as part of Le Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Jeff Altenburg, of Ellicott City, Md., and Peter Cunningham of West Bend, Wis. finished second and third, respectively.

Starting from the pole position, Kleinubing piloted his No. 42 RealTime Racing Acura RSX-S to an early lead and never looked back. In fact, Kleinubing led by as much as six-seconds late in the race before Altenburg was able to cut into his lead. Kleinubing's margin of victory was 5.331 seconds at an average speed of 87.064 mph for the 25-lap, 63.5-mile race.

"I've got to thank Road Atlanta for having those 'Esses' today because that is what made a huge difference," Kleinubing said. "The car was so unbelievably fast through there. I knew my car was going to be strong."

Kleinubing's win was the 19th of his career and his first Road Atlanta. It was also the former Champion's return to the top after a string of bad-luck races.

Coming off a win a Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Altenburg drove his No. 40 TriPoint Mazdaspeed Mazda Protégé ES to a solid second-place performance. Altenburg, who started third on the grid, quickly took over second-place on the first lap, but was never able to catch the race leader. Altenburg recorded his fourth career second-place finish at Road Atlanta and his third second-place finish of 2003.

"I knew pretty early on that the only way I was going to catch Pierre was unless he broke or had a problem," Altenburg said. "The only way I would have been able to run him down was to beat my car up. Even at the end, I was just trying to hang on for dear life."

Starting on the outside of row one, Cunningham had contact and spun his No. 1 TeamRTR/Nissan Motorsports/NISMO Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V at turn two on the first lap of the race, dropping him to fifth. On lap 20, Cunningham was able to pass Bill Auberlen, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., for third place allowing him to pick-up his second podium finish of 2003.

"The TeamRTR car was good all week here," Cunningham said. "It seemed like in the beginning I was a just a little bit loose, but then it was really, really good at the end. I was able to keep the heat on those guys and was able to get back up to the podium. To get back on the podium is a real tribute to this team."

Auberlen, who clinched the Touring Car Drivers' Championship at the Round Eight race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, finished fourth driving the No. 93 Turner Motorsport/H&R Springs BMW 325i. Rookie Matt Plumb drove his No. 50 duPont Motorsport BMW 325i to fifth.

Andrew Lewis, of Cooper City, Fla., won the Sunoco Hard Charger of the Race award for advancing 14 positions throughout the race. Zac Mazzotta, of Santa Barbara, Calif., won the B&M Holeshot award for advancing eight positions on the first lap of the race.

Nic Jonsson set a new Road Atlanta Speed Touring Car race lap record with a time of 1:38.274 (93.046 mph). Jonsson beat the old record set by Auberlen early this year by 1.648-seconds.

Following the race, James Clay, driver of the No. 36 Bimmerworld/Ground Control/Hawk Performance BMW 325i, was put of probation for the final race of the season due to on-track contact during the race.

With one round remaining, Auberlen has already clinched the Speed Touring Car Drivers' Championship. He has 258 points, followed by Kleinubing (184 points), Will Turner (153), Roger Foo (146) and Jeff Altenburg (145).

BMW clinched the Speed Touring Manufacturers' Championship Presented by Racer Magazine today, and has 63 points, followed by Acura (51 points), Mazda (42), Lexus (18), Nissan (19) and Audi (7).

The SCCA Speed World Challenge GT and Touring Car Championships next head to San Juan, Puerto Rico Oct. 24-26 for the Puerto Rico Grand Prix.

Today's race will initially air at 4:00 p.m. (EST) Saturday, Nov. 8 on Speed Channel.

-scca pro racing-

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Series PWC
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Turner Motorsport