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Road Atlanta: Tri-Point Motorsports race notes

Altenburg scores podium as Tri-Point shines at Road Atlanta. Braselton, GA - October 11, 2002. Jumping curbs and rubbing fenders, Jeff Altenburg fought to the finish with Pierre Kleinubing in his Tri-Point Motorsports Mazda Protegé to capture...

Altenburg scores podium as Tri-Point shines at Road Atlanta.

Braselton, GA - October 11, 2002. Jumping curbs and rubbing fenders, Jeff Altenburg fought to the finish with Pierre Kleinubing in his Tri-Point Motorsports Mazda Protegé to capture his first podium of the season in SPEED World Challenge Touring Car competition at Road Atlanta, helping to tighten up the manufacturers points' battle heading into the final race of the season at Virginia International Raceway.

"My Tri-Point Mazda Protegé was perfect all weekend," Altenburg said afterwards, "I don't think we made a change to the car since it came off the trailer at the start of the weekend." Altenburg's confidence was obvious as he challenged Kleinubing over the closing laps of the race, trying to inside and outside moves to get the position. "This was the first race I felt comfortable with the car to drive like that. Most people wouldn't try to hang on the outside of turn 12 on the last lap, but the car was up to it and I knew I could trust Pierre."

Following hot on the heels of Altenburg in fifth place was fellow Tri-Point driver Shauna Marinus. After a couple of difficult finishes at Mosport and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca when contact in the opening laps shuffled her back down the field, Marinus was relieved to have an incident free start and finish up towards the front once again. "I was able to have a clean start this time and focus on fast laps, it was exciting to watch Jeff go after Pierre in front of me, and after the last two races my car is nice enough to go on display at one of our weekend sponsors Atlanta Area Mazda Dealerships."

While Altenburg and Marinus were having trouble-free starts the contact gremlin struck Paul Bonaccorsi on the opening lap, dropping him from his 11th place starting position down to 35th position at the end of the first lap. "I go bounced around on the opening lap and we damaged the front aerodynamics on the car so we had an uphill fight all day with the handling," Bonaccorsi commented. "The car didn't want to turn into the corners but I was still able to bring the car back up through the field a little bit."

Indeed Bonaccorsi was able to climb all the way back to 16th place but the results eliminated him from the Driver's Championship equation and dropped the only repeat winner in SPEED World Challenge Touring Car competition this year from third overall down to fourth behind fellow Mazda driver Chuck Hemmingson.

Despite falling to third place in the Manufactures battle behind BMW and Acura, Altenburg helped close the gap for Mazda down to five points entering the final round. "We're just going to keep doing what we're doing," Altenburg said, "and hopefully the results will go our way and we can give Mazda their first championship in the series."

For more information about the Tri-Point Motorsports SPEED World Challenge Touring Car program please visit www.tripointengineering.com

-tpm-

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Series PWC
Drivers Pierre Kleinubing , Paul Bonaccorsi