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Aug 5, 2002
QUEBEC - Mazda took its recent motorsports success north of the border Sunday as Chuck Hemmingson's Number 19 OPM Motorsports/Crototile Mazda Protegé ES raced to a first place win in the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Round Seven race at Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres. Hemmingson piloted his Protegé ES to the checkered flag by nearly one second for the 32-lap race.
Mazda placed three Protegés in the top 10 Sunday as Jeff Altenburg and Shauna Marinus finished fifth and tenth respectively. Mazda drivers have continued to post impressive results in this year's point standings-boasting three of the top 10 spots. At a close third place overall in the manufacturer's point standings, Mazda is quickly climbing over its competitors as it sets its sights on the manufacturer's title with four races remaining.
Hemmingson's Protegé ES showed its grit as well as its durability as the Des Moines, Iowa, resident moved up from the number five starting spot as other racers experienced mechanical problems. Polesitter and point leader Pierre Kleinubing (Acura) led from the start until a brake failure on lap six took him out of the race with irreparable damage. Kleinubing's exit vaulted second-starting Will Turner (BMW) into the lead until his gearbox lost fourth gear on lap 23, dropping him back to the chasers.
"Maybe I was the only one who wanted to win this race," said Hemmingson, who topped off his birthday on Friday with his first win since 1999, and the fourth of his career. Hemmingson's victory was one of many strong finishes for Mazda and its SCCA 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.
"Chuck [Hemmingson] works diligently on his car to make it faster, and this win is a true testament to his efforts and those of the entire team," said Steve Sanders, manager of MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development. "Mazda has been supporting the World Challenge program for a season and a half, and to already have our second win of the year while being in contention week after week is just fantastic."
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.