SCCA NEWS: SPEED Touring Car is Ready to Rock

Photo by John Thawley Lakeville, Conn. (May. 24, 2007) - With all the hype surrounding the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT race in Charlotte, the SCCA SPEED Touring Car race at Lime Rock Park this weekend might have slipped under your radar.

After a year away, SCCA SPEED World Challenge returns to the 1.53-mile road course in the Connecticut wilderness. Won by Bill Auberlen in a BMW in 2004 and 2005, it will be interesting to see who emerges from the weekend the new king of Lime Rock.

Tri-Point Mazda teammates Jeff Altenburg and Randy Pobst have an excellent shot at it considering they've finished the first two races of the season one-two and lead the SCCA SPEED Touring Car Championship that way as well. But, one has to wonder after the performance we saw out of the two teammates on the last lap at Miller Motorsports Park how much longer the Mazda pair can play nice?

Pierre Kleinubing is probably sick of playing nice. Following in third behind the Tri-Point Mazdas is in no way satisfying for the defending SCCA SPEED Touring Car Champion. Kleinubing has four victories to his name at Lime Rock Park and one would expect that he is ready to turn up the wick this weekend and get Acura its first win of the season.

His partner in crime just might be Kuno Wittmer. The Canadian out-qualified all of his RealTime teammates in his debut with the Acura squad at Sebring and finished fourth at Miller Motorsports Park, putting him fourth in the current point standings.

Trailing Wittmer by only five points is Seth Thomas, who along with teammate James Clay, is on track to one of the most successful BimmerWorld seasons ever. Thomas put in his best SCCA SPEED Touring Car qualifying performance to date in Utah where he qualified third. The team is keeping its fingers crossed that the hard luck that followed them throughout 2006 has finally been put to rest and they will soon break their two season podium drought.

Charles Espenlaub has displayed a tremendous talent for working his way up through the field this season. The Tindol Motorsports driver picked up 17 places at Sebring after switching engines before the race and starting at the back of the grid, and won the Sunoco Hard Charger Award at Miller Motorsports Park for picking up six positions in the race. Currently seventh in the Championship, Espenlaub might have another uphill battle ahead of him if; in six World Challenge starts, his best Lime Rock Park finish is 16th.

The Sorted Performance Dodge SRT-4s of Hal Brown and Stan Wilson are still attempting to find their stride this season. Both drivers have yet to finish higher than 14th, but they do lead the Piloti SCCA SPEED Touring Car Rookie of the Year standings. Perhaps they"ll get a hand from Dodge SRT-4 ace Robb Holland who returns to SCCA SPEED Touring Car this weekend after a switch to SCCA SPEED GT.

Sitting out Round Two in Utah, but returning at Lime Rock Park is Jim Osborn, who caused quite a stir at Sebring. After announcing he would be field a Volkswagen Jetta Turbo Diesel, Osborn showed up at the season opener with not just a diesel car, but a biodiesel car, making it the first professional biodiesel road racer. Osborn used the time away from Utah for some valuable testing on his unique Jetta in hopes of a better performance at Lime Rock Park than Sebring.

Before the teams have even arrived in Connecticut there is a buzz of excitement throughout the field - there is no rain in the forecast.

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