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Competition Heats up in Canada for RealTime
 Date: June 26, 2012 06:20
 Submitted by:  JeffX
 Source: RealTime Racing Press Release
 Credibility Rating: Not Specified

Acura team keeps strong position in GTS championship

MOSPORT, Canada (June 25, 2012) – The stiff competition within the Pirelli World Challenge GTS Championship came to a head at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park during a doubleheader weekend. The very nature of the high-speed track combined with recent rules adjustments for some of the competition made the event an uphill battle for RealTime Acura drivers Peter Cunningham and Nick Esayian. The team has never been one to shy away from a challenge, and a valiant performance helped the team maintain strong positions in the GTS Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championships.

Qualifying – Race One
The doubleheader in Mosport got off to a rocky start for the RealTime bunch. Up against powerful Ford Mustangs, Kia Optima Turbos, Chevrolet Camaros and Porsche Caymans on one of the fastest circuits World Challenge visits, Cunningham’s fast lap of 1:26.517 (102.319 mph) placed him sixth on the GTS grid.

Esayian and his No. 34 RealTime/Acura/HPD Acura TSX missed GTS qualifying for Race One. The car experienced an engine problem in practice, forcing the team install a brand new motor. The change could not be completed in time for qualifying, meaning Esayian was forced to start Saturday’s race from the back of the grid.

Saturday – Race One
Saturday’s race began with a full-course caution period seconds after the standing start for a GT car stuck in the gravel at turn one. Cunningham’s No. 42 RealTime/Acura/HPD Acura TSX circulated in sixth for two laps behind the safety car, while Esayian nestled into 14th.

On the restart, Cunningham fell to seventh and was immediately under pressure from the No. 55 Ford Mustang FR500S of Richard Golinello. The Acura held off the Mustang for the next seven laps, but Cunningham fell to eighth just before the race’s second full-course caution ― a lengthy one to clean up a fire from a GT car.

After 10 laps of caution, the race finally resumed on lap 20 and Cunningham made his move on Golinello’s Mustang. Plenty of oil dry remained on the track where the fire cleanup had taken place, creating a large cloud of dust as the field went through. Golinello chose to brake at the sight of the dust cloud, but Cunningham opted for a quick lift and sped back into seventh, where he would finish eight laps later.

“Considering the competition we’re facing here in Mosport, we feel lucky to finish in seventh today,” Cunningham said. “The Acura is as fast as any GTS car in the high-speed corners and as a team we’re faster than we’ve ever been at Mosport, but it’s tough to keep up with the higher-horsepower cars on the long, uphill back straight, which unfortunately for us leads to the primary passing zone.”

Esayian moved up to 14th early in Race One, but the issue that forced him to miss qualifying re-emerged in the race. Esayian pulled the car into pit lane and retired the car before the midway point. He didn’t walk away empty handed, however, as his quick start earned him the Optima Batteries Best Standing Start Award.

Qualifying – Race Two
RealTime’s uphill battle became steeper in Race Two―the benefits of a positive performance adjustment for the Ford Mustangs becoming ever more apparent. Cunningham qualified ninth with a lap of 1:27.431 (101.250 mph).

Esayian was once again unable to qualify his Acura after a bad crank sensor caused the car to misfire. Though Esayian would be forced to start from the back of the grid again, the crew felt confident about finding and fixing the problem early.

Sunday – Race Two
Sunday’s race began with a bit of déjà vu, as a full-course caution was issued seconds after the cars left the grid. In those few moments, however, Cunningham advance to eighth.

After the restart, Cunningham’s Acura was entangled in web of Ford Mustangs. He quickly chased down the No. 50 Ford Mustang Boss 302S of Paul Brown, but had to simultaneously defend himself from Golinello once again.

On lap 14, Golinello took advantage of the battle between Cunningham and Brown to pass both cars on the back straight. Cunningham turned the pass into an opportunity for himself, finally making the pass on Brown. Three laps later, Cunningham was around Karl Poeltl’s Porsche 996 and on the following lap the Acura was around Golinello’s Mustang and into sixth.

For the remaining 12 laps, Cunningham kept the Mustang at bay with Golinello making a bid up the back straight on seemingly every lap. In the end, the Acura crossed the stripe 1.361 seconds ahead of the Mustang for a sixth-place finish.

Cunningham’s drive from ninth to sixth earned him the Sunoco Hard Charger of the Race Award.

“It’s been a tough weekend, so sixth place almost feels good,” Cunningham said. “Our competition has been very fast this weekend in Mosport, but the team’s done its best to keep us in the game. This race was much more fun than Saturday’s, even if I had a Mustang in my mirror every time I hit the back stretch.

“The GTS points were already tight coming into this weekend and with the results in Mosport they should be even closer. With another doubleheader coming up at Mid-Ohio, I hope the tide can change back in our favor quickly.”

Starting from the back of the grid, Esayian moved into 14th before the lap one full-course caution. After the caution, Esayian continued to pick up positions through the race’s halfway point, when he found himself 12th and pressuring the No. 29 Chevrolet Camaro of Harry Curtin.

With 10 laps to go, Esayian made a move on Curtin in turns eight and nine, but with a backup motor not quite up to the task, he was unable to complete the pass. The move cost the Acura some momentum and prevented Esayian from taking a second shot at Curtin until the final lap. Once again, Esayian dove to the inside of Curtin through the last complex of turns, but could not capture the position. Esayian crossed the finish line in 12th, just 0.141 seconds behind Curtin.

“What a long weekend,” Esayian said. “In my whole career with RealTime, I think I’ve had only two motors let go, so this has been very uncharacteristic for the team and not a fair representation of them or the car. Sometimes in racing, you just have weekends like this, but you can’t throw in the towel.

“I felt good in Race Two, but the engine I had was not nearly as strong as our normal package. With all the uphill sections at Mosport that really made it tough to get up through the field.

“Keeping things in perspective, I’m still sixth in the points and nobody made considerable ground on me. I’m confident things will turn around at Mid-Ohio.”

Cunningham managed to lose only one point to Andy Lee in their battle for the GTS Drivers’ Championship. Lee now leads Cunningham by 11 points (981 to 970).

Despite his misfortune in Mosport, Esayian holds sixth place in the Drivers’ Championship, 60 points back from fifth (678 to 618).

Acura slipped to second in the GTS Manufacturers’ Championship. The top three marques are separated by just six points; Ford leads with 49 points, followed by Acura with 45 and Chevrolet with 43.

Rounds eight and nine of the Pirelli World Challenge GTS Championship from Canadian Tire Motorsport Park will air on NBC Sports, Saturday, July 7th at 5PM ET.

Next Up
RealTime Racing can claw back to the points lead with another doubleheader weekend on the horizon; rounds 10 and 11 will take place in five weeks at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course August 3 – 5. Both races will air live on http://www.world-challengetv.com. Live timing and scoring is available on http://www.world-challenge.com.

The 2012 season for RealTime Racing is brought to you by Acura, HPD, Red Line Oil, Eibach Springs, Sparco, BOSCH, Brembo, BuyBrakes.com and Total Auto Body.

Last edited by JeffX on June 26, 2012 06:46

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