RealTime Nets Two Podiums for Acura in Florida Sunshine
Continues to Lead Manufacturers’ Chase
April 3, 2005 – St. Petersburg, Fla.
Pierre Kleinubing, who made his debut with RealTime Racing here in 1997, and team owner Peter Cunningham, finished second and third in today’s SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship race, part of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg race weekend.
The results give Acura a 16-14 lead over Mazda, after two races, for the series Manufacturers’ Championship.
“Races on temporary circuits always have the potential to turn sour in a heartbeat,” said Cunningham, “the concrete walls lining a street circuit make the penalty for a mistake a lot more expensive than dropping a wheel off the road at a permanent facility.
“All five of our Acura TSX and RSX race cars were set up great, and each of our drivers did an excellent job of preserving his equipment, avoiding the walls, and fighting smart all the way to the checkered flag.”
Kleinubing finished less than nine seconds behind the race winning Mazda of Randy Pobst, with Cunningham another six seconds back. The finishing order for everyone behind Pobst was improved one position after post-race technical inspection disqualified the original second place car.
Eric Curran, driving his RealTime Acura RSX, had a day that posed the question, “Who needs all that track time before a race?”
Curran was unable to participate in Practice or Qualifying in Florida because of another Acura racing commitment in California on Saturday afternoon. He arrived at the Tampa airport at 6 a.m. on race day with barely a couple hours of rest after the cross-country red-eye flight.
With only a parade lap as a passenger for the earlier SPEED GT series race, plus the parade and formation laps for his Touring Car race as reference, Curran shot from a 27th place start to 18th on the first lap, earning the race’s B&M Hole Shot Award. He finished the race in eighth position, also earning the Sunoco Hard Charger Award.
“With three laps under his belt, Eric was almost a veteran by the time the race started,” Team Manager Nathan Bonneau joked. “He did a superb job for RealTime Racing today, as did our other two drivers, Nick Esayian and Brandon Davis.”
Esayian started his Acura RSX in 16th position and climbed to 10th by the race’s end. After a successful rookie season last year, his previous career-best finish of 12th two weeks ago at the Sebring season opener has now been surpassed by his first top-10 result.
Davis, the early leader in this year’s rookie chase, started his TSX in 18th and finished 11th, despite a minor incident on lap four which required him to pit for a new tire, and subsequent re-start from deep in the field.
Both Esayian and Davis were able to run qualifying speeds or better during the race.
Cunningham had high praise for one of his competitors, BMW pilot Matt Richmond, whom he battled and finally passed on Lap 12 to take over fourth place. “Once I got by Matt I thought I was safe, but he came back and pushed me hard. We raced clean and had a great fight for a number of laps before traffic gave me a gap.”
“This was a good weekend for all the RealTime Racing team, and we’re happy that we performed so well on a weekend which Honda sponsored,” Bonneau added.
With two races done, Cunningham leads the Drivers’ Championship points with 57. Curran is sixth with 37, followed by Kleinubing in seventh with 31, Esayian in eighth place with 30, and Davis in ninth with 30 points.
The race will be televised on SPEED TV, Sunday, April 10 at 1 p.m. EST.
Round Three of the 11-race 2005 SPEED Touring Car battle takes place April 15-17 at Road Atlanta, near Gainesville, Ga.
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.