RealTime Racing Results from Sebring
Date: March 21, 2005 15:49
RealTime Press Release
Peter Cunningham resumed his winning ways in the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car series by driving the RealTime Racing A-SPEC Acura TSX to Victory Lane in the season-opener at Sebring International Raceway.
The win was the 77th of Cunningham’s professional career, and his (still-a-record) 29th in World Challenge competition. It was his ninth pro-race win on Sebring’s 3.7-mile road course.
Cunningham took the lead on the 15th of 18 laps when race leader Randy Pobst’s Mazda 6 suffered a terminal malfunction and coasted to the side of the road.
“Considering that RealTime debuted the Acura TSX at Sebring only a year ago this weekend, it is amazing to see how strong a package this car has become. Because of the team’s efforts, we have a challenger that is going to be a threat all season long,” Cunningham said.
“The typically-massive Sebring crowd today got to see a great race among five drivers, representing three car manufacturers, who are going to be the hardest to beat all season. Today, we were the team which had the fewest problems,” added Team Manager Nathan Bonneau.
With qualifying rained out, the starting grid was based on practice times, putting Cunningham and teammate Pierre Kleinubing fourth and fifth in their matching neon-orange & white TSXs, sporting an eye-catching new livery for the first time in eight years.
“Pierre and I got good starts,” Cunningham said, “but Pierre had the best exit out of Turn One to move up to second place by Turn Three.”
Kleinubing, a three-time champion in the series, took the lead for laps four and five, but a rare mechanical problem with the engine’s map sensor caused him to pit for repairs, putting him a lap down to the field. However, in his return to the track, he re-established the race-lap track record with a 93.845mph blast.
Randy Pobst then took the lead, with Bill Auberlen’s BMW 325i and Cunningham chasing closely. The order of the top-three stayed the same for seven laps until Auberlen skidded wide in the Hairpin allowing Cunningham into second. The Acura driver did what he could to catch the Mazda, but was then granted a favor when Pobst rolled to a stop.
Auberlen was then the only driver who had a chance to catch Cunningham, but he fell 3.9 seconds shy of the flying RealTime Acura.
“The challenge today was to keep the tires under me. Because of the deluge that washed out qualifying, we were all on ‘sticker’ tires, and I knew their performance would suffer without the normal preparation of a heat cycle,” Cunningham said, alluding to the rule requiring competitors to start the race on the tires they qualified on. “I wasn’t sure that was working because those guys kept inching away from me. But by mid-race, they started coming back.”
RealTime Racing placed four of its five Acuras in the top-12 spots at the finish. Eric Curran, returning to the Wisconsin-based team this year after a one-year absence, improved four spots over his 11th place start in his Acura RSX to finish seventh.
Nineteen-year old college student Brandon Davis came out the box with the sixth-best lap time in the first official practice session, giving notice that he will be one of the drivers to beat for the ‘Winning Team’ Rookie-of-the-Year title. After starting eighth, his RealTime TSX got ‘freight trained’ back to 22nd after the chaotic opening lap, but kept his wits about him and knifed his way back to the 11th spot before the fall of the checkered flag.
Nick Esayian, now in his second year as a RealTime team driver, moved up quickly to finish 12th in his Acura RSX, a seven-spot improvement from his start.
“I’m proud of everybody on the team, no matter what his assignment,” Cunningham said. “Only those closest to our organization know what these guys have been through to be able to unleash these great-looking Acuras here at Sebring. And to have the fruits of our laborious winter testing fulfilled by our show of speed, we are enthused about our chances this year!”
The Sebring opener will be broadcast on SPEED TV, Sunday, March 27 at 1 p.m. EST.
Round Two of the 11-race 2005 SPEED Touring Car battle takes place on a brand new temporary road course at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 1-3. The popular production-based series will compete in Florida for the second time in two weeks, this time as the Indy Racing League will be challenged by their first-ever non-oval track event.
The RealTime Racing Acuras are sponsored by the Acura Division of American Honda, A-SPEC, Red Line Oil, Eibach Springs, Memphis Car Audio, buyBrakes.com, BOSCH, Sparco, Hawk Performance, Brembo, SPORTCOMPACTCAR, Valley Graphix, Total Auto Body, PACT and A-YES.
Last edited by Tuan on
March 21, 2005 15:59