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Sebring: Tri-Point Motorsports race notes

Tri-Point Motorsports battles adversity in season opener at Sebring. Friday, March 14, 2003. (Sebring, Florida). After a string of solid finishes to wrap up the 2002 campaign hopes were high for Jeff Altenburg and Shauna Marinus as they climbed...

Tri-Point Motorsports battles adversity in season opener at Sebring.

Friday, March 14, 2003. (Sebring, Florida). After a string of solid finishes to wrap up the 2002 campaign hopes were high for Jeff Altenburg and Shauna Marinus as they climbed back behind the wheel of their Tri-Point Mazdaspeed Proteges to kick off the new season. The opening round of the SCCA Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship at Sebring International Raceway would prove to be a bittersweet affair for the Tri-Point Motorsports effort as both drivers were forced to see their potential through adversity.

Altenburg, coming off of two consecutive podium finishes in Touring Car competition, would pilot a brand new Protege, recently completed by the Tri-Point crew, but would ultimately fall out of competition while running fifth due to an electrical problem that plagued the team through the weekend. "This new Protege was fantastic right out of the box," Altenburg explained, adding, "It was absolutely the best handling front-wheel drive car I have ever driven, unfortunately we had a persistent engine misfire. The crew worked so hard trying to track down the problem, but every time we thought we had it fixed it would come back."

Despite the engine misfire, Altenburg managed to put in an impressive display on the opening laps of the event. After qualifying seventh, despite suffering damage to the car when struck by another driver in the qualifying session, Altenburg quickly moved up to fifth and was challenging for fourth when the temperature gauge started rising. "Even with the problem we were able to keep the cars ahead in range, and I was closing in on Pierre Kleinubing when I saw the engine temperature rising and had to pit."

While Altenburg was forced out of the contest early, Marinus was on the move forward after getting shuffled down to the 27th position on the opening laps after starting 14th on the grid. She quickly gained back one spot on lap three, followed by four more positions the next lap and a further three more by lap five. Over the remaining laps of the 17-lap event Marinus would steadily pick off competitors to finish 13th. "This was a challenging race having to drive back through the field but we showed that the Tri-Point Proteges are up to the task," Marinus said. "I look forward to Mosport when we will have my new car complete to go along with Jeff's new car."

Sharing Marinus' optimism is Altenburg as he looks forward to the next round and the rest of the season. "The handling of our new Protege was excellent all weekend, and I can't say enough about how hard the crew worked," Altenburg said. "I know the Tri-Point crew will track down that electrical gremlin and, combined with the potential I could feel driving the car, I can't wait until Mosport."

About Tri-Point Motorsports

Tri-Point Motorsports is the competitive arm of Tri-Point Engineering. Founded in 1979, Tri-Point Engineering is dedicated to the development of high-performance Mazda vehicles.

Over the years Tri-Point Engineering has engineered and developed dozens of championship winning IMSA and SCCA road race cars, SCCA Solo II and ProSolo cars, sand rails, drag cars, and many of the hottest high-performance street cars currently ruling the Southern California street scene.

About SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship

The SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship provides teams, manufacturers and aftermarket suppliers a competitive arena for production-based race cars, based on their performance potential and market segments. The 2003 season will consist of ten events held in conjunction with SCCA Pro Racing, American LeMans Series, and CART ChampCar World Series events, with all races being broadcast on Speed Channel. Round Two will be held at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada on May 16-18.

-tpm-

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About this article
Series PWC
Drivers Pierre Kleinubing , Jeff Altenburg