Realtime Racing Sonoma (and Season) Results
Date: August 27, 2012 15:16
RealTime Racing Press Release
RealTime Acura Sweeps World Challenge GTS TitlesCunningham Adds Drivers' Championship to Acura's Manufacturers' Crown
SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 27, 2012) – A few short weeks after earning Acura’s record 10th Pirelli World Challenge Manufacturers’ Championship, RealTime Racing also laid claim to the GTS Drivers’ Championship courtesy of Peter Cunningham. With a runner-up finish in the series’ finale at Sonoma Raceway, Cunningham collected his record-extending seventh Drivers’ Championship in World Challenge competition and RealTime Racing’s 14th. Teammate Nick Esayian ended the season fifth in points, despite bad luck at Sonoma.
Friday - Qualifying
RealTime Racing arrived in Northern California with their heads held high, having clinched the World Challenge GTS Manufacturers’ Championship for Acura a round early at Mid-Ohio. Building on that momentum, the team put two solid Acura TSXs in the hands of Cunningham, of Milwaukee, Wis., and Esayian, of San Diego, Calif., for Friday’s qualifying session. With a lap of 1:44.007 (82.552 mph) Cunningham put his No. 42 RealTime/Acura/HPD Acura TSX fourth on the GTS starting grid. Esayian wasn’t far behind with a lap of 1:44.566 (82.110 mph), good enough to put his No. 34 RealTime/Acura/HPD Acura TSX sixth on the grid.
Cunningham earned six points for qualifying fourth, which kept his point margin over his nearest challengers, Jack Baldwin and Andy Lee, large enough that the Acura pilot would only need to start Saturday’s race to claim the Championship.
Saturday - Race
In Saturday’s 26-lap GTS finale, both RealTime Acuras made it through the standing start cleanly, with Cunningham picking up two spots and moving into second ― sealing the GTS Drivers’ Championship.
“I was a bit nervous at the start of the race, because anything can happen on the pace lap and the standing start,” Cunningham said. “But once I passed the start stand, I was all in. I wasn’t perfect off the line. A Kia was in my way, but once I got going, I had the proper lane, so I was able to get by Andy Lee and ended up slotting into second.”
Disaster struck in Turn 2 for Esayian, however, when his TSX made contact with the Ford Mustang FR500 C of Brad Adams. The hit cause significant damage to the No. 34 and sent Esayian into the gravel, where his race ended.
“We got a good start and got past Galati, but one of the Mustangs had a good start too and cut across my bow going into Turn 2,” recalled Esayian. “The hit damaged my suspension. I had no brakes, no steering and no drive line, but I managed to get it off the track and out of harm’s way.”
The GTS field circulated under full-course caution for five laps while the safety crew retrieved Esayian’s car. When the race resumed on lap six, Cunningham held on to second place, but had a rear-view mirror full of Lee’s Chevrolet Camaro. Lee, now in a fight for second in the GTS Drivers’ Championship, was eager to get around Cunningham and chase down Baldwin’s Porsche Cayman S. He successfully made his move on lap seven, just before the race’s second full-course yellow.
“I realized that I didn’t have enough to hold Andy off, so I let him past without too much resistance. Giving Andy and Jack the chance to fight for 2nd place in the Drivers’ Championship.”
Following another lengthy caution period, green flag racing resumed on lap 13. Two laps later, GTS race leader Baldwin suffered a flat tire on his Porsche, allowing the field to stream by and Cunningham to return to the runner-up spot.
With too much ground between himself and GTS leader Lee, Cunningham focused his attention on defending the runner-up spot from a duo of Kia Optimas. Fortunately, the two Kias faded, allowing Cunningham to cross the finish line in second without serious challenge.
The runner-up finish in Sonoma extended Cunningham’s career record of World Challenge podium finishes to 112.
Cunningham’s seventh World Challenge Championship and 10th SCCA Pro Racing Championship was won by a margin of 102 points over Andy Lee (1366 to 1264).
Despite being scored in 16th place for the season finale, Esayian hung on to fifth in the GTS Drivers’ Championship with a total of 859 points.
“It was a great year.” Esayian concluded. “I look at fifth in points and I have some level of satisfaction. Yes, there were some mechanical gremlins along the way, and it was disappointing to start and finish the season with racing incidents that put me out of those two races, but that’s racing. We’ll be back to give it another go next year.”
Though RealTime scored only two wins in 2012 (the same as Porsche, Ford and Kia, and two fewer than Chevrolet) it was consistency that won Acura its 10th World Challenge Championship.
“This championship sweep is a tribute to the RealTime Acura group,” Cunningham said. “I just do the easy part. The level of preparation, the handling, the reliability and the power are always constant throughout the year. We may not have won the most races, but it’s consistency that wins championships. I want to thank Acura, HPD and the whole RealTime crew for all their hard work and dedication this year. I know I always say I have good luck when I’m running the number 42, but I am looking forward to wearing the number one again in 2013.”
The Pirelli World Challenge GTS finale from Sonoma Raceway will air on NBC Sports, Sunday, September 9th at 3:30 PM ET.
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.
A huge congrats goes out from the TOV to the RealTime racing crew and Acura/HPD for scoring their 10th World Challenge Championship.
Last edited by JeffX on
August 27, 2012 15:32