Monday
Jul092007

TEAM NEWS: Tri-Point Motorsports has Challenging Weekend at Toronto WCTC Event

Photo by John Thawley July 9, 2007 Even though Tri-Point Motorsports MAZDA6’s currently lead both the manufacturer’s title chase and driver’s championship points race in 2007 SPEED World Challenge Touring Car competition, this weekend’s Grand Prix of Toronto was a bit of a stumbling block in their thus far spectacular season of WCTC. Tri-Point’s Randy Pobst of Gainesville, Georgia finished fourth on the weekend with Jeff Altenburg of Ellicott City, Maryland taking sixth, and Tri-Point newcomer Roberto Santos, who showed some serious pre race potential, finished a distant fifteenth in his #74 MAZDA6. The Toronto weekend marked the first time this season that a Tri-Point entry was not in the winner’s circle or on the podium.

Rookie Rules

With only one practice session and qualifying before the sixth round of the ten-race SPEED Touring Car championship, teams and drivers were under intense pressure to ensure that a good race set up could be dialed in. WCTC rookie Roberto Santos again showed his considerable ability as he turned the third quickest time in the first practice session, outpacing his more experienced teammates with a 1:22.242 lap of the 1.755 mile eleven turn street circuit that was being shared as part of the Champ Car World Series weekend event. Altenburg, who had been fighting a head cold for much of the race weekend, turned the ninth quick time in his #72 MAZDA6 with a 1:23.138, and current TC points leader Randy Pobst could muster only the thirteenth quickest time in practice session one with a 1:23.411.

Qualifying and Race Action

After a host of set up changes made overnight following the single practice on Friday, the brilliant blue and white Tri-Point entries took to the Toronto circuit Saturday for a quick twenty-two minute qualifying session. Pobst immediately improved on his Friday times by dropping two seconds to place the #73 sixth on the grid with a 1:21.211. Altenburg also shed time to qualify seventh at 1:21.591. Santos dropped two tenths of a second from practice to run a 1:22.073 that secured eleventh on the grid for the driver from Monterrey, Mexico.

The Toronto Grand Prix SPEED Touring Car race took the green flag at 2:39 pm EST time and saw a clean start for most of the first lap on a wet circuit, although contact amongst several cars late in the first lap resulted in a full course yellow caution period. Pobst had already moved his #73 entry to fourth by that point, and Altenburg had improved to sixth, with Santos taking the #74 Tri-Point entry up one position to tenth before the yellow. A single file restart followed the full course caution that lasted some four laps and Pobst continued to move forward following the restart, securing third after the pole position winning and race leading Acura RS-X of Kuno Wittmer went wide in turn three and dropped back several places.

The action at the front of the field was intense with several drivers having time at the point but ultimately running into problems. Pobst held third for several laps but the Acura TSX of Pierre Kleinubing sneaked by and dropped the TC points leader to fourth.

Altenburg found himself racing several cars near the middle of the pack and his position changed from lap to lap. Eventually however, the field sorted out, and Jeff was able to concentrate on moving in for some passes. While running in sixth place, Altenburg had to fend off pressure from Michael Galati in the #95 Tindol MAZDA6. At one point in turn three, Galati actually began to move up alongside Altenburg, but Jeff held fast to sixth and continued there until the checkered flag.

Santos, who continued to move forward throughout the beginning of the race made contact with the #95 of Galati shortly after the multi time TC champion’s attempt at a move on Altenburg placed him wide in turn three. Santos was assessed a stop and go penalty for “avoidable” contact with the #95 car and dropped back in the field. Santos returned to the fray just in front of the race leader, and in yet another display of potential speed, he was able to hold off the lead pack. Santos deftly avoided going a lap down, and was able to hold out until a caution period late in the race allowed him to catch up to the back of the pack. Santos would finish fifteenth despite turning some quick laps during the race.

Quotes

Jeff Altenburg – Driver #72 Tri-Point MAZDA6

“I had fun racing for the first time on this Toronto street course. I wish I hadn't been feeling so poorly the first two days, but by race day I was feeling almost 100%. There were iffy conditions at the start of the race and I almost went out on drys which could have ended with a win since it was dry for the last half of the race. It also could have ended in tears when it was wet, so I'll take the 6th place and move on to Ohio to continue the season. We are really feeling the weight SCCA has put on us along with the balance toward the nose of the car. We'll do what we can with it for the next race and try to work around it.

I'd like to thank Stop Tech Brakes, Hawk Pads, Comptech, Sachs, Chase Cams and, of course, Mazda for all of their support with Tri Point's quest for the championships!”

Randy Pobst – Driver #73 Tri-Point MAZDA6

"I am very pleased with my performance and that of my Tri-Point Mazda 6 today. Very tricky conditions resulted from the changing weather here in Toronto. With the track wet, we chose to set up for that, then, of course, it dried out. Stop Tech brakes again provided great stopping. I worked very hard to get what speed I could on full tread tires intended for rain. Rules adjustments to our Mazda's have changed the handling, for sure, slowing us down. I think we will make more progress with our new situation with a chance to test a bit a Mid-Ohio. Track time was quite minimal in Toronto. I welcome personal sponsor ChaseCam, joining WeatherTech, APR Tuning, and Team Janica Racing.”

Roberto Santos – Driver #74 Tri-Point MAZDA6

“It was an interesting race for me. Being my first street course and my second race in the rain ever, I had a lot to learn quickly. My MAZDA6 was great and Craig Nagler at Tri-Point Motorsports set up a great car for me. The ending was not what I had hoped but we’re looking to do much better at Mid-Ohio.”

Upcoming and Info

The Tri-Point squad will head next to Lexington Ohio for the seventh round of the 2007 WCTC season July 20-22 at the Mid Ohio Sports Car Complex. Log onto www.world-challenge.com for more info on the Toronto race or for scheduling info on the upcoming Mid Ohio event. The Toronto TC race will be televised tape delayed on SPEED July 14th at 11:00 am EST.

Points

Pobst continues to lead the driver’s championship points race, and despite Peter Cunningham taking the win of the Toronto event in a Realtime Racing Acura TSX, Mazda continues to lead the manufacturer’s title in comfortable fashion. Altenburg maintains his second place in the driver’s points race and Santos dropped from fifteenth to sixteenth.

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