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SPEED World Challenge - TC Championship, Round 7

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Mansfield, OH July 20-22, 2007

Dave Drimmie
Apr 13, 2009
Photographer: Michael Wong

The SPEED World Challenge returned to Mid-Ohio for the 10th time in series history and BMW 325i driver Joey Hand thrilled fans with a dramatic last lap pass on Chip Herr in the Audi A4 to take his first career series win. Hand is the first rookie to win in his first SPEED World Challenge series start since Wolf Henzler did it in the GT class in 2004 at Infineon. Mazda 6 driver Jeff Altenburg finished 3rd on the day to regain the top spot in the overall driver standings.

Saturday’s 20-minute qualifying session got under way at 7:25am under clear, sunny 53F conditions. Jeff Altenburg continued his sensational season by taking his third pole of the year. It was a record-breaking session as the top four eclipsed the previous qualifying track record of 1:33.231 set by Pierre Kleinubing in 2006.

Here’s how the top 10 qualifiers lined up for the race on Sunday morning:

1. Jeff Altenburg Mazda 6 Mazdaspeed Mtspts Development 1:32.846 @ 87.551 mph
2. Chip Herr Audi A4 STaSIS/Clear Capital/FredBaker 1:32.911 @ 87.490 mph
3. Seth Thomas BMW 325i Bimmerworld 1:33.032 @ 87.376 mph
4. Joey Hand BMW 325i Bimmerworld 1:33.038 @ 87.370 mph
5. James Sofronas BMW 325Ci TecmarkAutosport/GMG 1:33.270 @ 87.153 mph
6. Jason Martinelli BMW 325Ci Tecmark Autosport Ltd. 1:33.370 @ 87.060 mph
7. Adam Pecorari Audi A4 STaSIS/Clear Capital/Sewickley 1:33.485 @ 86.953 mph
8. Peter Cunningham Acura TSX Cert. P-O Acura/RealTime 1:33.540 @ 86.901 mph
9. Randy Pobst Mazda 6 Mazdaspeed Mtspts Development 1:33.600 @ 86.846 mph
10. Pierre Kleinubing Acura TSX Cert. P-O Acura/RealTime 1:33.695 @ 86.758mph

Sunday’s 27-lap race on the 13-turn, 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio road course started under essentially the same sunny, clear conditions that existed for the qualifying session the day before – temperature at the start of the race was 65F. After Saturday’s qualifying session, Altenburg commented that anyone betting on him to take the hole shot off the standing start ahead of Herr in the all-wheel drive A4 would be a fool. And sure enough, Herr used that all-wheel drive advantage to rocket ahead early in the race, building up over a one-second lead. And with 3rd place qualifier Thomas retiring due to drive axle failure off the start and Hand getting a slow launch, the leaders through the first four laps were Herr, Altenburg, Sofronas and Martinelli. But Hand started to make his move on lap 6, passing Martinelli and setting his sights on the top three. By lap 15, Hand was pressuring Sofronas and on lap 16 he moved by and started to work the Mazda 6 of Altenburg. After a spirited six-lap battle between Hand and Altenburg with the two running door-to-door a number of times, the BMW driver finally passed on turn 5 in lap 22 and then set his sights on Herr in the A4. With a 1.3 second lead and only three laps remaining, Herr looked to have the win locked up, but Hand spiritedly threw the BMW around the course and by the white flag was within striking distance of the leader. And with Herr running too deep into the Keyhole turn 2 and locking up the brakes, Hand seized the opportunity to take the lead and he held off Herr’s challenges through the final turns to take the checkered flag.

After the race, Altenburg commented on his battle with Hand. “That was some of the most fun, awesome, close, give-and-take, respecting-each-other’s-space racing I’ve done in a long time.” “We had some bitchin’ outside inside racing” added Hand, “Altenburg and me were dead sideways for four corners. I don’t know how [Jeff] and I didn’t wreck. If that’s not [a great] show for the fans here and on TV, I don’t know what is. This is the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It’s great to be in SPEED World Challenge Touring Car”

Here’s how the top 10 finished at Mid-Ohio:

1. Joey Hand BMW 325i
2. Chip Herr Audi A4
3. Jeff Altenburg Mazda 6
4. James Sofronas BMW 325Ci
5. Pierre Kleinubing Acura TSX
6. Peter Cunningham Acura TSX
7. Ian Baas Audi A4
8. Charles Espenlaub Mazda 6
9. Adam Pecorari Audi A4
10. Kuno Wittmer Acura RSX

Driver Standings after seven of 10 races:

Jeff Altenburg 215
Randy Pobst 198
James Sofronas 173
Pierre Kleinubing 169
Chip Herr 159

Manufacturer Standings after seven of 10 races:

Mazda 53
Acura 34
BMW 26
Audi 26

Teams now head to the Grand Prix of Mosport on August 25-26. Log onto Modified.com for all the race coverage and pick up Modified Mag for all the latest from the series. The race from Mid-Ohio will be air on SPEED Channel July 28 at 3pm est.

By Dave Drimmie
13 Articles

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