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Speed World Challenge Touring Washington DC Results
 Date: July 24, 2002 12:35
 Submitted by:  RyanDL
 Source: Realtime Racing Press Release
 Credibility Rating: N/A


July 21, 2002 ? Washington, DC

SPEED World Challenge series Touring Car points leader Pierre Kleinubing and his RealTime Racing boss, Peter Cunningham, escaped the concrete canyons of the new temporary race circuit in the shadow of RFK Stadium in Washington, DC with their points lead still intact. Just not as much of a lead as they had going in, though.

What was supposed to be a 30-lap race on the 1.661-mile parking lot circuit evolved into 29 minutes of actual racing, and 30 minutes of idling along behind the safety car after crashes by other competitors put the circuit under full-course yellow conditions three times. One crash even moved the concrete barriers.

?It was really sad,? said Cunningham, who finished sixth in his RTR Acura Integra Type R, about 12 seconds out of the win. ?We had the largest field of the weekend ? 45 cars ? and the most competitive in terms of how tightly-bunched the qualifying times were. It could have been a sensational race had there been more restraint displayed. I can only imagine some of these cars won?t be seen at Trois-Rivieres in two weeks.?

RTR entered three Touring Cars this weekend. Cunningham qualified fastest of the three, in fourth place, less than a half a second off Rookie Points leader Mark Kirberg?s pole position in a BMW 325is. Kleinubing was only 17/100s of a second slower than Cunningham, but that still put the series points leader eighth on the grid.

As the start lights were extinguished, signifying the beginning of the race, it soon became apparent that certain drivers had not remembered Chief Steward Pat diNatale?s words of wisdom in the Driver?s Meeting. Something about not trying to win the thing in Turn One on the first lap. The sixth place qualifier in a Mazda Protegé made up at least three spots by the approach to the first corner, but unfortunately, he was going about 15mph faster than everyone else, and had to take evasive action, illegally shortcutting the course before rejoining the track after the apex by bouncing off other cars. He made it all the way to Turn Two before finding himself smashed flat, and backwards along the outside wall, thus ending his day if not his year. Other first-lap risk takers made heroic lunges toward the front, only to find fateful endings against the concrete walls.

Meanwhile, Kleinubing climbed to sixth place by lap 14, but was in the pits with the hood up on lap 24 with an engine misfire, and finished in 34th position, two laps off the pace. A failed distributor was the culprit, bringing about the lowest finish ever recorded by the three-time World Challenge champion. Cunningham slipped from fourth to 10th on that harem-scarem opening lap, and slowly fought his way back to seventh, before inheriting the sixth spot when Pierre suffered his rare mechanical problem.

Fred Meyer was looking forward to this event in our nation?s capital, as he has spent a good bit of time here working on George W. Bush?s Victory 2000 campaign. And he wasn?t disappointed, learning the track quickly in his RTR Integra and having a great fight all day long. One memorable moment occurred late in the going, when a car he was fighting for position with, spun right in front of him, nearly collecting him into the wall. But Meyer was on top of the wheel, avoiding incident and going on to another season-best finish, this time in 26th. In doing so, he had a fast lap below the 01:30.0 barrier, improving his previous fast lap from qualifying by almost a second and a half.

Kleinubing has 140 points after six of eleven races, while Cunningham sits second on the chart with 133 points. BMW 325is driver Will Turner is their closest pursuer with 127 points.

BMW 325 drivers finished 1-2-4 with a Lexus IS 300 in third and a Mazda Protegé fifth, BMW now has a 40-31 Manufacturers? Championship points lead over Acura.

Saturday?s qualifying laps provided a tightly-bunched field. An astonishing 11 cars qualified with less than one second separating them.

The next race is also a temporary circuit affair, August 2-4 on a 1.6-mile, 11-turn fairgrounds layout in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, where Cunningham and Kleinubing should be highly favored.

Kleinubing won the Touring Car race in 1999; the last time the SPEED Touring Car series raced there, and holds the track qualifying record for the class. Cunningham has 1995 and 1997 World Challenge wins. Between them, they have 12 wins and 23 podium finishes on World Challenge series temporary circuits.

The DC Touring race will debut on the SPEED Channel on Sunday, August 4, at 4pm EST.

http://www.realtimerl.com

Last edited by Tuan on July 24, 2002 12:59

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