Mazda finished the day at Sebring yesterday with the fastest car during the first practice session ahead of the 2009 World Challenge Touring Car season.
Jason Saini, piloting the Tri-Point No. 74 Mazdaspeed/Stoptech/Racinghart Mazda, posted the best lap time at the end of the day with a 2:25.294 on the 17-turn, 3.7-mile circuit.
“Conditions were a bit variable,” Saini said. “It was damp this morning, but it got better throughout the session. It was hard to learn what the car was really doing in the changing conditions. I was lucky to have a late lap when the conditions were getting better every lap.”
“The team has done such a great job pulling things together in short order. So many people pulled together to make this happen at the last minute. All credit to the team for staying up late all last week and getting these cars together.”
The Tri-Point team of Mazda6’s also claimed 4th and 6th for the day with Charles Espenlaub piloting the No. 73 car and rookie Eric Foss in the No. 75 car taking the respective positions.
Much of the rest of the top 10 was filled with the RealTime Racing Acura TSXs with Kuno Wittmer taking 2nd, Pierre Kleinubing taking 3rd and Toby Grahovec taking 7th. Defending World Challenge Touring Car Champion Peter Cunningham, the only driver piloting a new TSX vehicle, placed 5th.
Finishing out the top ten were Andrew Aquilante and his Subaru WRX in 8th, Nick Esayian in his BMW 328i in 9th and James Clay in his BMW 328i in 10th.
The World Challenge Touring Car Series kicks-off with the opening race this Friday, March 20th .
Full Practice Session results after the jump:
1, (74), Jason Saini, Ft. Worth, Texas, MAZDA6, 2:25.294, 91.676.
2, (44), Kuno Wittmer, Montreal, Quebec, Acura TSX, 2:25.358, 91.635.
3, (42), Pierre Kleinubing, Coconut Creek, Fla., Acura TSX, 2:25.564, 91.506.
4, (73), Charles Espenlaub, Lutz, Fla., MAZDA6, 2:25.961, 91.257.
5, (1), Peter Cunningham, Milwaukee, Wis., Acura TSX, 2:26.395, 90.986.
6, (75), Eric Foss(R), Fort Worth, Texas, MAZDA6, 2:27.907, 90.056.
7, (43), Toby Grahovec, Chicago, Ill., Acura TSX, 2:28.249, 89.848.
8, (35), Andrew Aquilante, Phoenixville, Pa., Subaru WRX, 2:28.445, 89.730.
9, (34), Nick Esayian, San Diego, Calif., BMW 328i, 2:31.660, 87.828.
10, (36), James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., BMW 328i, 2:32.313, 87.451.
11, (38), Seth Thomas, Cumming, Ga., BMW 328i, 2:39.445, 83.539.
12, (24), Jim Osborn, Ooltewah, Tenn., Volkswagen Jetta TDI, no time.