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Sep 10, 2003
MONTEREY, Calif. - Mazda took home three of the top six finishes at the Fry's Electronics Sports Car Championships, held September 6 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (MRLS). Led by MAZDASPEED Protegé driver Jeff Altenburg, who won his first career Speed World Challenge race, Mazda recorded its finest performance of the season as fellow MAZDASPEED Protegé drivers Chuck Hemmingson and Shauna Marinus also finished strongly. Charles Espenlaub grabbed an additional honor for the MAZDASPEED Protegé team as he was named the B&M Holeshot Award winner for his stellar first lap holeshot of eight positions.
Altenburg, of Ellicott City, Md., and his No. 40 Tri-Point Motorsports MAZDASPEED Protegé ES, led the race flag-to-flag to clinch his first career Speed World Challenge Touring Car win. Altenburg also set a Mazda Raceway record en route to his inaugural title by recording an average speed of 76.945 mph for the 26-lap, 58.188-mile race.
"The MAZDASPEED Protegés have been running great all season, and to come away with three of the top six spots on our home racetrack makes for another successful weekend," said Steve Sanders, manager of MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development. "We performed at such an elite level today, and Jeff's win was the icing on the cake for Mazda."
Hemmingson, who finished third at Mid-Ohio in August, repeated that performance at MRLS, giving him two podium finishes in the last three races. After starting eighth, the Des Moines, Iowa, resident soundly navigated his ARC Racing/TBPG/Red Line MAZDASPEED Protegé ES through traffic, capturing third place on the last lap of the race.
With Saturday's win, Mazda is in third place in the Speed World Challenge Touring Car Manufacturers' Championship Presented by Racer Magazine, following BMW and Acura.
Altenburg, Hemmingson, Marinus and Espenlaub gave Mazda the latest in a string of many strong finishes for its Speed World Challenge program, which has been enjoying a run of success all season long with a customized, high-performance, race-ready engine uniformly developed for the Mazda Protegés competing in the series.
Mazda North American Operations is responsible for the sales and marketing, customer parts and services support of Mazda vehicles in the United States. Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., MNAO has more than 700 dealerships nationwide.