Tri-Point Motorsports and MAZDASPEED Announce 2008 Driver Lineup CANOGA PARK, Calif. (February 13, 2008) -- Tri-Point Motorsports and Mazda had a stellar season in 2007 and are looking to repeat their success in 2008 with a fresh and potent...
Tri-Point Motorsports and MAZDASPEED Announce 2008 Driver Lineup
CANOGA PARK, Calif. (February 13, 2008) -- Tri-Point Motorsports and Mazda had a stellar season in 2007 and are looking to repeat their success in 2008 with a fresh and potent driver lineup. SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car competition is intense and provides an ideal venue for Tri-Point to showcase Mazda's race driven engineering.
A trio of top-level drivers will lead the charge to defend both the Manufacturers' and Drivers' titles in the distinctive blue and white Tri-Point MAZDA6 race cars when the green flag drops at the traditional World Challenge season-opener, March 12-14, in Sebring, Fla. Returning for 2008 is longtime Tri-Point pilot and 2007 SPEED Touring Car Champion Jeff Altenburg. He will be joined by touring car veteran and friend Charles Espenlaub, making the move from Tindol Motorsports. Rounding out the Tri-Point squad is 2007 Mazda MX-5 Cup Champion Jason Saini who is making his World Challenge debut as he advances to the next rung of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder.
Altenburg has been a consistent and critical component of Tri-Point's racing success and 2008 should be no exception. He will be shouldered with the difficult task of besting his 2007 record of two race wins, five podium finishes, and the Drivers' Championship, all while wearing the iconic No.1 on the door of his MAZDA6.
"I am very happy to be trading my trusty No. 72 for the No. 1 on my MAZDA6 in 2008," Altenburg said. "It will be a reminder all year of what was accomplished in 2007 through hard work, tough battles and support from many, many people. It's good to know that we will have the continued support and expertise of companies like Comptech Engines, Stop Tech Brakes, Sachs Shocks, Chase Cams and, of course, MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development.
Joining the Tri-Point squad this season should be an easy transition for Espenlaub, who already has three years of experience behind the wheel of a MAZDA6, driving for Tindol Motorsports. Espenlaub played an important role in Mazda's quest for a Manufacturers' Championship, finishing ninth in points in 2007. Espenalub brings with him nearly a decade of professional racing and instructing experience in a wide variety of sports and touring cars.
"I am really excited about the 2008 season for many reasons," Espenalub said. "I'll be able to continue my relationship with Mazda and MAZDASPEED, who have given me an opportunity to work with the Championship-winning Tri-Point team. Another bonus is that I will join forces with my good friends and A-list drivers Jeff and Jason. This will be an incredible year and I hope to do my part in bringing home another championship for both Mazda and Tri-Point."
Saini's 2007 racing season was a runaway success in the ultra-competitive SCCA Mazda MX-5 Cup series where he scored a staggering five wins in eight races, catapulting him to a Championship victory and into a Tri-Point MAZDA6 Touring Car courtesy of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder. The switch from a rear-drive spec MX-5 to the more advanced front-drive MAZDA6 will be an exciting challenge Saini is happy to accept.
"I'm incredibly excited at the opportunity Mazda is providing for me, advancing from the MX-5 Cup to SPEED World Challenge. It's always been a dream of mine to drive in this series, and to get the chance to join a Championship team like Tri-Point is just amazing. I've got a ton of respect for what Tri-Point has accomplished, and I'm proud to drive for them in 2008."
"There will obviously be a learning curve switching to front-drive, but the crew at Tri-Point has made the car handle so well that it's like driving a race-car, not necessarily a front-drive race car. Also, the momentum nature of the MX-5's I've been driving begs the same driving style as these Touring cars, so I think I'm ready to make the transition. The best part is, I'll only get faster as the year goes on!"
Craig Nagler, owner and director of Tri-Point Motorsports, is once again ready to test the MAZDA6 against some of racing's best.
"I am looking forward to defending our hard-fought Championships this year," Nagler said. "It's going to be very tough with all the great teams we race against in SPEED World Challenge.
"We are changing things up for 2008 by adding drivers Charles Espenlaub and Jason Saini alongside Jeff, and they are bringing a lot of excitement to our team. In addition, I think Jason has an excellent shot at winning Rookie of the Year. As we have been testing and making plans for the start of our season I really like the way Jeff, Charles, and Jason work together. Another important point is there will be very little change in our crew, which should allow us to continue where we left off in 2007."
The new 2008 Tri-Point driver lineup makes their debut March 12-14 at the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring Presented by Fresh from Florida, where they will begin their quest to keep the Manufacturers' and Drivers' crowns in the Mazda trophy cabinet.
Divided into two separate series and races (SCCA SPEED GT and SCCA SPEED Touring Car), the SCCA SPEED World Challenge Championships are American's top production car-based series. SCCA SPEED World Challenge events are a maximum of 50 minutes in length, feature standing starts, and regularly have grids of more than 30 cars composed of the world's most popular manufacturers. The 2008 SCCA SPEED World Challenge season begins March 12- 14 at Sebring International Raceway. For more information see www.world-challenge.com.