Tri-Point Motorsports closes out season with podium finish at Virginia. Alton, VA - Capping a successful season, Tri-Point Motorsports finished on the podium with one of their Mazda ProtegÃ©s once again as Jeff Altenburg fought off contact and...
Tri-Point Motorsports closes out season with podium finish at Virginia.
Alton, VA - Capping a successful season, Tri-Point Motorsports finished on the podium with one of their Mazda Protegés once again as Jeff Altenburg fought off contact and battled his way to second place finish at Virginia International Raceway in SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car competition.
"That had to be one of the craziest races of my life," Altenburg would claim afterwards. "It seemed like all the drivers were driving more aggressively than usual and every time somebody got into my car I had to adjust my style to meet the new handling characteristics. Still, if we had had a few more laps I think we could've taken the victory today."
>From the start of the weekend the Tri-Point trio of drivers showed that would be a force to be reckoned with around the 3.27-mile course, with Shauna Marinus topping the charts in the first official session, while Altenburg duplicated the feat in the afternoon session. Paul Bonaccorsi also displayed his speed, posting the sixth fastest time on Friday despite suffering damage to the car during an incident during the promoter's test day on Thursday. "The Tri-Point crew did an excellent job getting my car back together and I didn't even miss a session," Bonaccorsi explained. "I think we were all pretty comfortable with where the cars were at going into qualifying."
Qualifying for the SPEED World Challenge Touring Car event was supposed to be a prelude for the planned "Top-Ten Shoot-Out" between the ten fastest drivers for final grid positions, so the Tri-Point crew set out to ensure they were in that select field. All was going to plan, as Altenburg and Bonaccorsi were fifth and sixth fastest accordingly, however the shoot-out was abandoned after Pierre Kleinubing rolled his car on the opening lap and the field reverted to the original qualifying times.
While Altenburg was able to maintain his pace in the race, despite the damage sustained to his car, Bonaccorsi would see his hopes for a third place in the championship fade when Taz Harvey re-entered the track directly in front of him after an off-road excursion. "I have never seen the top ten drivers drive so rough and careless," Bonaccorsi commented, "bumping and run was the race strategy, not racing. I had lost my mirror and the left front tire was rubbing by turn three of first lap. On lap ten Harvey came back onto the track after doing some gardening and parked it right in front of me and I hit his driver side door at about 70 MPH. That ended my race and the season."
While Bonaccorsi's race headed south, Marinus' race was picking up. After a qualifying session that found her down in thirteenth place Marinus was on a mission as she worked her way back up the lap charts. Picking off positions left and right, Marinus had moved to fifth place and was closing on fellow Mazda driver Charles Espenlaub for fourth when the checkered flag dropped.
As the dust settled and points were calculated Bonaccorsi and Marinus both garnered top ten finishes for the season with Bonaccorsi placing seventh and Marinus claiming tenth in the championship. Despite a limited schedule of races Altenburg managed thirteenth in the championship. Despite placing three cars in the top five positions, two of them from Tri-Point, Mazda was unable to move past BMW in the Manufacturers Championship and would have to settle for third place.
As the drivers reflected on the season, all commented on the professionalism of Tri-Points Motorsports and their Mazda Protegés, with Bonaccorsi perhaps summing it up best, "All of our cars were capable of winning races, if we had some racing luck, and I think we showed everybody that the Mazda Protegé is a great car. With the potential we have showed I am already looking forward to making a run for the championship next year."
For more information about the Tri-Point Motorsports SPEED World Challenge Touring Car program please visit www.tripointengineering.com.