In 2003, the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) World Challenge series was in its fourteenth season.
For the fifth year Speed Channel was the primary sponsor.
SCCA had developed a successful format that attracted competitors and fans.
Race weekends included two standing start fifty-minute races – one for the Grand Touring class and another for the Touring Cars.
To prevent any driver/car combination from dominating the class and ensuring tight competition, the R.E.W.A.R.D.S. System was implemented. Introduced in 1995, R.E.W.A.R.D.S. is the acronym for ‘Rewarding of Equalizing Weight Assigned to Reduce Driver Sensitivity.' This weight equalization rule adds or removes ballast from a car based on the finishing position of a driver.
There were ten-race weekends during the 2003 season. The opening round was in March at Sebring, Florida followed by back to back race weekends in May at Mosport Park and Lime Rock. Two races would be held for the Grand Touring category at Lime Rock. Lime Rock was followed by the first of two events held at Road Atlanta (June and October). Both classes competed at Infineon Raceway but the next event at Mid-Ohio was only for Touring Cars. The series moved to Road America, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and then the penultimate round at Road Atlanta. The series finale was held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Round ten of the 2003 World Challenge Grand Touring Championship was held at Road Atlanta. Drivers would compete for twenty-seven laps or fifty minutes, whichever came first, around the twelve-turn 2.54-mile road course.
|The start of the 2003 season’s second Touring Car race held at Road Atlanta – the series made its first appearance in June. There was a total of thirty-eight starters. Leading the field is pole-sitter Pierre Kleinubing in the RealTime Racing Acura RSX. Immediately behind Kleinubing are Jeff Altenburg in a Mazda Protégé, the Nissan SE-R of Peter Cunningham and Bill Auberlen driving a BMW 325i.|
|Mid-season, former series champion, Pierre Kleinubing had a string of back luck which reduced his chances of winning another title. At the Petit Le Mans, Kleinubing captured his first pole position of 2003. Driving an Acura RSX prepared by RealTime Racing, he led all twenty-five laps and won by a margin of 5.331-seconds. This was his third victory of the season – the first two came at Mosport and Lime Rock.|
|Jeff Altenburg was fresh off a win at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Altenburg started third on the grid driving the TriPoint prepared Mazda Protégé. At the start, he jumped into second place when Peter Cunningham spun in turn one of the first lap. Altenburg was never challenged and maintained the position for the remainder of the race. He also took the runner-up spot at the June event.|
|In 2003, defending Touring Car champion, Peter Cunningham traded his Acura ride for an opportunity to race a Nissan SE-R. Cunningham scored his first victory in the Nissan at Road America. At Road Atlanta, he qualified on the outside of the front row but contact on the first lap in corner one dropped him to fifth. On lap-20 of twenty-five, Cunningham passed Bill Auberlen for third and captured the final spot on the podium.|
|Nic Jonsson drove the No. 27 BMW 325Ci entered by Tecmak Autosport. Jonsson qualified sixth quickest and during the event logged the fastest race lap. In the process, he established a new lap record for the Touring Car class which was 1.648-seconds faster than the time set by Bill Auberlen in June. Unfortunately, Jonsson’s race ended on lap-20 when the BMW suffered a transmission issue. He was classified in the thirtieth position.|
|In June at Road Atlanta, Bill Auberlen led flag-to-flag and captured the Touring Car victory in a Turner Motorsports prepared BMW 325i. By the second visit to Road Atlanta, Auberlen had clinched the Touring Car title – he won the championship in round eight at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. At the Petit Le Mans weekend, Auberlen started and finished fourth.|
|Rookie Bob Endicott entered the World Challenge series with a number of championships as an amateur racer and solo competitor. Driving the King Motorsports Acura RSX, he scored his first Touring Car victory at Mid-Ohio. The Road Atlanta weekend was not as kind to Endicott. He qualified ninth but on the eighth lap, his right front suspension failed in turn ten. Thinking it was a flat tire, Endicott returned to the pits but lost the right front wheel.|
|Former Spec Miata champion, Bob Stretch adapted quickly to the World Challenge series, proving to competitive in his rookie season. Stretch started fifth on the grid, driving the Wheels America BMW 325Ci. At the checkered flag, he dropped a position and finished sixth. During the 2003 season, Road Atlanta was Stretch’s second-best qualifying and race result.|
|The highest placed rookie was Matt Plumb driving the No. 50 duPont Motorsport BMW 325. Plumb was twelfth quickest at the end of the qualifying session and after twenty-five laps of racing finished fifth. This was his second best result of the season – in round three at Lime Rock he started and finished second.|
|Earning the Sunoco Hard Charger Award was Andrew Lewis. The award is given to the driver that advances the most places during the race. Lewis qualified the No. 47 HP Racing / Maximum Auto Body Acura Integra Type R twenty-sixth and was twelfth at the checkered flag – improving fourteen positions during the contest.|
|Zac Mazzotta driving one of the RealTime Racing Acuras won the B&M Hole Shot Award. This award is given to the competitor that advances the most places on the opening lap. Mazzotta started twenty-fourth in the RealTime RSX and passed eight cars before the completion of the first lap. At the conclusion of the contest, he was in eleventh place.|
|The World Challenge Touring Car podium at Road Atlanta. On the left is the runner-up Jeff Altenburg and to the right is Peter Cunningham, who captured the final position on the rostrum. Between these two is the winner Pierre Kleinubing. This was Kleinubing’s third victory of the 2003 season, his nineteenth World Challenge win but his first at Road Atlanta.|
|1||1||Pierre Kleinubing||Acura RSX-S||25||-|
|2||3||Jeff Altenburg||Mazda Protege ES||25||-|
|3||4||Peter Cunningham||Nissan SE-R||25||-|
|4||2||Bill Auberlen||BMW 325i||25||-|
|5||12||Matt Plumb||BMW 325||25||-|
|6||5||Bob Stretch||BMW 325Ci||25||-|
|7||14||Roger Foo||Mazda Protege ES||25||-|
|8||15||Mike Fitzgerald||Lexus IS300||25||-|
|9||21||Michael Galati||Audi A4||25||-|
|10||10||Eric Curran||Nissan SE-R||25||-|
|11||24||Zac Mazzotta||Acura RSX-S||25||-|
|12||26||Andrew Lewis||Acura Integra R||25||-|
|13||19||Tim Pappas||Lexus IS300||25||-|
|14||28||Chet Wittel||Mazda Protege ES||25||-|
|15||22||Matt Richmond||BMW 328i||25||-|
|16||18||James Clay||BMW 325i||25||-|
|17||17||Jon Prall||Audi A4||25||-|
|18||7||Chuck Hemmingson||Mazda Protege ES||25||-|
|19||20||Mike Van Sicklen||Lexus IS300||25||-|
|20||32||Justin Elder||Mazda Protege ES||25||-|
|21||11||Will Turner||BMW 325i||25||-|
|22||31||Kevin McKee||Acura Integra R||25||-|
|23||34||Phil Parlato||BMW 325i||25||-|
|24||27||Larry Stepp||Mazda Protege ES||25||-|
|25||38||Jim Osborn||BMW 325i||25||-|
|26||36||Nick Woodhouse||BMW 325i||24||-|
|27||8||Shauna Marinus||Mazda Protege ES||24||-|
|28||23||Frank Selldorff||BMW 325i||24||-|
|29||25||Robert Baxter||Mazda Protege ES||22||-|
|30||6||Nic Jonsson||BMW 325Ci||20||Transmission|
|32||13||James Sofronas||BMW 325Ci||14||Accident|
|33||30||Peter Schwartzott||Acura RSX-S||11||Suspension|
|34||9||Bob Endicott||Acura RSX-S||8||Accident|
|35||33||Rick Gilhart||Acura Integra Type R||5||Electrical|
|36||35||Mark German||Mazda 626||3||Suspension|
|37||16||Charles Espenlaub||Mazda Protege ES||2||Mechanical|
|38||37||Rick Maki||BMW 325Ci||2||Suspension|
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