Jeff Altenburg in his Mazda 6 captured his third-career SPEED World Challenge TC win at Sebring International Raceway on Friday, March 16. Altenburg led the 18-lap, 66.6-mile race from flag to flag while teammate Randy Pobst finished a close second and defending drivers’ champion Pierre Kleinubing in the Acura TSX finished third.
“He (Pobst) played wingman for me today as I am sure I will play it for him another time,” said Altenburg. “First pole in four years and that was with the help of Randy [Pobst]. We decided we were going to help each other out more in qualifying and give one another a pull down the straights. We both got a clean start and worked together to not do anything silly. Randy says he wanted to win with all of his heart and I’m sure he did, but I think he could have pulled a move or two during the race. But, being teammates, he opted not to and I appreciate that. Seeing an orange and white car behind you [RealTime Acura] is a little more disconcerting than having your teammate right behind you,” said Altenburg.
Kleinubing, starting fifth, was able to grab the third spot on lap 2 after his teammate Kuno Wittmer, in the No. 44 Acura RSX ran wide after a battle with Seth Thomas in the No. 38 BMW 325i. Thomas ended up off the track in the exchange.
For the rest of the race it was the two Mazda’s up front with the Acura RSX challenging. At one point on lap 9, Kleinubing tried to nose ahead of Pobst coming out of turn 17 onto the front straight away but the RSX ran out of track heading into turn 1 and had to pull back. “Randy gave me a little tease of second place once,” said Kleinubing. “I had him in 17, but he got it right back going into one because I was on the outside. Even though I tend to make some crazy moves, that would be a stupid one, so I had to give it away.”
Chip Herr in the Audi A4 finished fourth, while Peter Cunningham rounded out the top five driving in his No. 42 Acura TSX.
The season opener of the SPEED Touring Car Championship will be broadcast on SPEED Sunday, March 25 at 1:30 pm EDT. And be sure to pick up Modified for more in-depth coverage of the series.
Here’s the top 10 finishers from the race on Friday, March 16th:
1. Jeff Altenburg, Mazda 6.
2. Randy Pobst, Mazda 6.
3. Pierre Kleinubing, Acura TSX.
4. Chip Herr, Audi A4.
5. Peter Cunningham, Acura TSX.
6. Charles Espenlaub, Mazda 6.
7. Kuno Wittmer, Acura RSX.
8. Brandon Davis, Acura TSX.
9. Dino Crescentini, Audi A4.
10. Seth Thomas, BMW 325i.