Mazda Clinches Touring Car Title and Tri-Point's Altenburg Maintains Points Lead Following Road Atlanta TC Event With one race left in the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car 2007 schedule, Mazda was able to clinch the...
Mazda Clinches Touring Car Title and Tri-Point's Altenburg Maintains Points Lead Following Road Atlanta TC Event
With one race left in the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car 2007 schedule, Mazda was able to clinch the Manufacturer's title, its first such title with the MAZDA6 platform. Tri-Point Motorsports' drivers Jeff Altenburg, Randy Pobst and Roberto Santos all were key players in Mazda's title chase, although the clinch came following a MAZDA6 victory in the hands of Tindol driver Michael Galati at Road Atlanta last weekend. Santos was unable to make the Road Atlanta event, but Altenburg finished 10th and kept his lead in the driver's championship race, while Pobst finished 15th after being punted off the track late in the race.
The weekend started with Acuras setting the pace, but by qualifying, it was Galati's #95 MAZDA6 on pole. Pobst of Gainesville, Georgia, whose home is just down the road from the race track, still found himself in unfamiliar territory with the handling of his race car, as in qualifying he placed the #73 Mazdaspeed Motorsports Development Tri-Point MAZDA6 10th on the grid. Altenburg, of Ellicott City, Maryland, who also is typically at or near the front in qualifying, was not where we wanted to be as he turned a 1:34.323 to put the #72 Tri-Point MAZDA6 13th on the grid.
Weather for the 45-minute scheduled Touring Car race was wet and cool, and both Tri-Point drivers were happy for the conditions, knowing that their MAZDA6 have typically been fast in rainy conditions. Altenburg, keenly aware that he had to move forward to add points to his current lead in the drivers' championship points race also wanted to be sure that he played it safe in the difficult conditions during the race. Altenburg knew that as long as he finished close to Pobst he would keep the lead in the championship heading into the final race of the year. In addition to being undeniably quick, Altenburg has shown that he races smart as well. Jeff steered clear of the trouble that struck several other drivers during the 25-lap event, and brought his #72 MAZDA6 home 10th at the checkered flag.
Pobst, trailing Altenburg by 14 points entering the Road Atlanta race, knew that he would have to finish well to make inroads into Altenburg's lead, and as such wanted to move forward in the field. Arguably one of the best drivers in the World Challenge paddock, Pobst was especially happy to see rain for the race, and the stage was set for a memorable run through the field as he has done many times before. However, his determination and skill not withstanding, the 9th round of this year's TC schedule was not to be Randy's event. After contact with the STaSIS Audi of Chip Herr, Pobst continued with his wounded MAZDA6, trying to salvage whatever points he could. Then, with only a lap left, Pobst was punted off the track, and to add insult to injury it was done by another MAZDA6, in this case the Tindol entry of Charles Espenlaub. Randy was listed as having finished 15th, and the gap in the championship to Altenburg opened to 19 points.
Jeff Altenburg - Driver - #72 Tri-Point MAZDA6
"Congratulations to Mazda on winning the SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Manufacturer's Championship! I'm proud of the Tri Point Motorsports Team for their part in winning it after many years of trying so hard. Now we head to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the finale to settle the Driver's Championship!
We were uncharacteristically off the pace this weekend. The Tri Point Motorsports Team were super professional as always, and all the ingredients were there in my MAZDA6, but the package didn't net the results we were hoping for. This series is so competitive that being off just a little bit can relegate you toward the back of the field pretty quickly. From my position on the grid and during the race, all I could do was look after my quest for the Driver's Title. Keeping an eye on the competition, I kept the #72 car out of trouble and brought it home and was even able to increase my points lead heading into Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. We got some crazy rain footage with our Chase Cams and, even in the wet, my Stop Tech brakes were great. Thanks to Tony Manzer and Dean Dodge for being there to offer technical support for our Comptech engines and Sachs Shocks."
Randy Pobst - Driver - #73 Tri-Point MAZDA6
"In the rain on the warm up lap at Road Atlanta, I was optimistic. I'm normally really good at such conditions, and my Mazda 6 felt much improved in the rain at Mosport in practice. Well, after a good start, we were hit hard in the second turn of the race by an overzealous competitor. The suspension was bent, but we were able to continue in a wounded condition, which is much better than Mid-Ohio. A difficult race became a tragic comedy when a Mazda friend punted me and him into the gravel in the last corner. On to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca! Special thanks to Tri-Point Motorsports, Mazdaspeed, Chase Cam, Stop Tech, Weathertech, APR Tuning, and Team Janica Racing...what an adventure!"
The Tri-Point squad will head next to the season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey, California. With the Manufacturer's title safely secure with Mazda, it will be an all out battle for the driver's title between Altenburg and Pobst while Realtime Racing's Pierre Kleinubing has an outside chance to be a spoiler. The final race of the 2007 SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car schedule will be held next week, October 19-21.