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Road Atlanta: Touring Car race notes

BRASELTON, Ga. (June 29, 2003) -- Bill Auberlen, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., recorded his second flag-to-flag SCCA Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship victory of the season today, taking Round Four at the Road Atlanta Chevy Grand Prix of...

BRASELTON, Ga. (June 29, 2003) -- Bill Auberlen, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., recorded his second flag-to-flag SCCA Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship victory of the season today, taking Round Four at the Road Atlanta Chevy Grand Prix of Atlanta. Jeff Altenburg, of Ellicott City, Md., was second and Shauna Marinus, of Folsom, Calif., became the first woman to ever finish on the podium in SCCA Speed Touring Car competition, in third.

After edging Marinus for his second pole position of the season, Auberlen got a great jump from the standing start in his No. 93 Turner Motorsport/H&R Springs BMW 325i and sped away from the pack as they battled behind. After building a four-second lead over Altenburg, a caution came out to retrieve a stricken car from the gravel on lap 14, erasing his advantage. On the restart two laps later, Auberlen was able to hold off Altenburg's charge to take a 3.45-second win, averaging 85.694 mph. Auberlen also recorded a flag-to-flag win at Sebring.

"At the start, I knew there would be BMWs surrounding the front wheel drive cars, and that might help me get away," said Auberlen. "When they were fighting in the first laps, I ran as hard as I could to get away. I had about a four second lead and figured I'd be in good shape as long as there wasn't a caution...and then there was a caution.

"I just ran as hard as I could the whole race."

Driving the No. 40 TriPoint Motorsports/Mazdaspeed Mazda Prot0x00e9g0x00e9 ES, Altenburg started third, and worked past Nic Jonsson's BMW on the second lap, but was too far behind to make a bid for the lead.

"There was no way I was going to catch him," said Altenburg. "Even if I pushed as hard as I could, it might have closed the gap a little, but then would have used the car up and had nothing to race for the lead with."

The caution closed the gap, and Altenburg was able to get alongside on the back straightaway after the restart.

"We had an advantage on the back straight, but he had the advantage under braking," added Altenburg. "I'm just glad to get a finish. We've had bad luck this year, and it's good to be up here."

Marinus started second in her No. 4 TriPoint/Mazdaspeed Mazda Prot0x00e9g0x00e9 ES, but fell to fifth at the start after having too much wheel spin getting off the line. She gradually worked her way back to third, passing first James Clay and then Jonsson, and held off the Mazda of Chuck Hemmingson, of Des Moines, Iowa, in the late stages to take her first career podium finish.

"It feels incredible to finish on the podium," said Marinus, who had a previous best finish of fifth. "I told [teammate] Jeff [Altenburg] that I didn't care if he passed me--well, I would have preferred he not pass me--but that I just wanted to finish on the podium."

Following Hemmingson across the line was pre-event point leader Pierre Kleinubing, who came through the field from his 20th starting spot, owing to a qualifying crash. The Brazilian relinquished the point lead to Auberlen, and now trails 119 to 114.

BMW also took over the SCCA Speed Touring Car Manufacturer's Championship Presented by Racer Magazine lead, with 32 points to Acura's 27. Mazda moved into third, with 13, followed by Lexus (eight), Audi (seven) and Nissan (one), which had its first point scored by defending series Champion Peter Cunningham, in sixth.

Vic Rice, of San Rafael, Calif., earned the B&M Holeshot Award in his Tom Williams Audi/STaSIS Audi A4 for advancing nine positions on the first lap. Tim Pappas, of Boston, Mass., was awarded the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing from 30th to 14th during the race. Of note, after having his qualifying times disallowed for a technical infraction, Roger Foo raced from 38th on the grid to finish eighth, behind Jonsson.

Today's race will be broadcast on Speed Channel Saturday, July 19 at 3:00 p.m. (Eastern). For more information, please visit www.world-challenge.com <http://www.world-challenge.com/> .

-scca pro racing-

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About this article
Series PWC
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Williams , Turner Motorsport