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Sebring: Season opener preview

Galati and Cunningham looking to repeat as champions in SCCA SPEED World Challenge. SEBRING, Fla. (March 11, 2003) -- For defending SCCA Speed World Challenge Champions Michael Galati and Peter Cunningham, the first hurdle in repeating as ...

Galati and Cunningham looking to repeat as champions in SCCA SPEED World Challenge.

SEBRING, Fla. (March 11, 2003) -- For defending SCCA Speed World Challenge Champions Michael Galati and Peter Cunningham, the first hurdle in repeating as Champions in one of North America's healthiest road racing championships begins March 14 at Sebring International Raceway, as part of the Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring.

In SCCA Speed GT, five-time defending series Champion Galati will once again lead the two-car Champion Racing assault, switching this season to the Audi RS 6 after back-to-back Championships in the S4 Competition. Randy Pobst, moving over from his traditional Porsche mount, joins the team after recording four wins and finishing third in points while only running seven of the 10 races last season.

Porsche, a five-time World Challenge Manufacturers' Champion, will make an all-out push for another Manufacturers' title with Colorado's 3R Racing at the forefront. The team will be led by former Porsche Cup Champion Mike Fitzgerald.

The BMW effort this season will be spearheaded by road racing powerhouse BMW Team PTG running a multi-car BMW M3 effort, with Trans-Am Series Champion Boris Said, racing veteran Bill Auberlen and sports car legend Hans Stuck handling the driving duties.

With SCCA Speed GT switching to Toyo Proxes RA-1™ DOT-approved race compound tire, Chevrolet Corvette Z06s drivers have flocked to the series. The list of Z06 drivers includes David Farmer, the lone Corvette winner in the series last season, Phil McClure, back with 3R Racing for a second season, a multi-car effort from Fast Track Motorsports including Adam Andretti and Rick Boysal and a host of new faces in the series.

Other notable SCCA Speed GT drivers include 2002 Rookie of the Year John Young in the Saleen SR and the return of Canadian Rob Fellows, driving the AER/Bob McGraw Racing Ford Roush Mustang.

In SCCA Speed Touring Car, Cunningham will begin his 2002 title defense in the venerable Acura Integra Type R. The three-time Champion welcomed a daughter on March 5, and will sport pink mirrors this week with her name on them.

Pierre Kleinubing, who has three World Challenge Championship trophies on his mantle at home, leads the RealTime Racing Acura RSX charge. He is joined in a second RSX by rookie Zac Mazzotta, who made his series debut last year at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The Mazda Protege ES contingent will once again be led by Shauna Marinus and Jeff Altenburg at TriPoint Motorsports. Other Mazda teams include OPM Motorsports with past race winners Chuck Hemmingson and Paul Bonaccorsi, a two-car SpeedSport LLC effort with Robert Baxter and 2001 Touring Car Rookie of the Year Roger Foo and Elder Benner Motorsports with Ken Payson and NASCAR Busch veteran Christian Elder.

BMW is once again the car of choice to start the season, led by a three-car Turner Motorsports effort, with Will Turner, Bill Auberlen, running in both SCCA World Challenge divisions, and Frank Selldorff. Other BMW notables include Barber Dodge alumni Matt Plumb joining Alfred duPont in a two-car duPont Motorsports effort and 2002 Mosport-winner Ken Dobson joining Jim Osborn at Chili Pepper Racing.

Other SCCA Speed Touring Car challengers include the three-car Lexus IS300 effort from Team FBR/Trans Sport lead by Mike Fitzgerald and Jon Prall heading the Stasis Engineering Audi A4 effort.

Last year's Sebring races included a dominant performance by Galati in Speed GT and a thrilling battle in Speed Touring Car, with Kleinubing topping Dobson. This year could prove different, as both of last year's winners debut new cars.

For more information on the 51st Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, please visit www.world-challenge.com.

-scca pro racing-

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Series PWC
Drivers Boris Said , Bill Auberlen , Randy Pobst , Christian Elder , John Young , Pierre Kleinubing , Michael Galati , Ken Dobson , David Farmer , Phil McClure , Peter Cunningham , Will Turner , Chuck Hemmingson , Paul Bonaccorsi , Robert Baxter , Roger Foo , Jim Osborn , Jeff Altenburg , Ken Payson , Alfred duPont , Adam Andretti , Zac Mazzotta , Matt Plumb , Jon Prall
Teams RealTime Racing , Turner Motorsport