August 18, 2002 ? Mosport Park, Ontario
Round Eight of the SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship was a return engagement for 2002 at Canada?s Mosport Park, after Round Two?s Victoria Day weekend event here three months earlier.
The results on this occasion weren?t as good as the RealTime Acura team would have liked, but their one-two status in the Driver?s Championship is still a reality, if not by as strong a margin as before. With a seventh place finish, team leader Peter Cunningham holds a 15 point lead in the points race, with three of 11 events remaining, over teammate Pierre Kleinubing, who finished eighth at Mosport. Four other drivers, however, are now within nine points of Kleinubing.
Acura is third in Manufacturers? Championship points, 18 points behind BMW, and six behind Mazda.
?Our fastest race laps were only the 14th and 16th quickest of the entire field,? said Cunningham. ?Our Acuras get around most of this place as well as any other model of car that is competing in Touring Car this season. But that long, uphill Andretti Straight just killed us because we just don?t have the power that the Mazda, BMW, and Lexus have, so passing becomes virtually impossible.?
?It was a nice show, but I?d rather watched it from my rear-view mirror than through my windshield,? Kleinubing added.
The race was won by Paul Bonaccorsi in a Mazda Protege. He and Kleinubing are the only two-time race winners this year. Close behind at the checkered flag were Mike Fitzgerald in a Lexus IS 300, and pole sitter Will Turner in a BMW 325i.
Mosport Park has been a good track for both Cunningham and Kleinubing. Six of Peter?s 72 career wins have come on the fast Canadian circuit, and three of Pierre?s 15 World Challenge Touring Car races were secured there in 1997, 2000, and 2001.
Cunningham qualified his #42 RTR Integra Type R seventh fastest; Kleinubing started ninth in his matching #1-plated machine on the 34-car grid.
?We over-achieved in qualifying, because we knew from our experience here in May that if we came out of Turn Five with a good car close behind us, we?d be passed before Turn Eight. Qualifying was black-flagged briefly, and when we re-started, Pierre and I made sure we were nose-to-tail so we could draft each other on the back straight, and we were helped by a tow from a BMW.
?We had only been 11th and 12th fastest until then, but we ended up moving up quite a bit with good luck and perseverance. All of the qualifying speeds were faster than they had been in May, perhaps because of the track conditions. They?ve repaved some spots, and it was a whole lot warmer, helping these spec-tires get closer to operating temperature. The Integras are also 40 pounds lighter now, but that didn?t seem to do a lot for us.?
Cunningham?s qualifying time was 1:35.268, more than a second faster than he was here in May, but he gained only two positions. Kleinubing was two/tenths of a second faster than in May, yet he lost seven spots. In all this weekend, the fastest 10 qualifiers beat May?s pole position time, and second through 20th were within the same second of each other.
The next race for the Touring Cars is September 20-22, at Laguna Seca Raceway near Monterey, Calif. Kleinubing finished fifth there last year, en route to his third season championship. Cunningham has four wins at the frequently-fog-shrouded track, including the 2001 SPEED GT Championship race.
The Mosport Touring Car race will debut on the SPEED Channel on Friday, September 6, at 10pm EST, and will re-air the next day at noon.
The RealTime Racing Acura Integras are supported by the Acura Division of American Honda, Red Line Oil, Eibach Springs, BOSCH, Sparco, Hella, Gemini Technologies, Brembo, Goodridge, Hawk Performance, and Acura of Brookfield.