Realtime SPEED World Challenge and Touring Car Results
Date: September 25, 2002 12:21
Realtime Press Release
Cunningham Celebrates 300th Race
With 2nd in Laguna Seca SPEED GT
RTR Acura NSX climbs back to second in GT points
September 22, 2002 ? Monterey, California
RealTime Racing team leader Peter Cunningham raced in his 300th professional event today in the SPEED World Challenge GT championship event at Laguna Seca Raceway on California?s Monterey Peninsula, celebrating the occasion with a second place finish and a pole position start.
Cunningham finished only 1.848 seconds away from the win, following Randy Pobst in a Porsche 911 Cup car to the finish line. The finish boosted Cunningham to second in the Drivers? Championship points, only 23 behind the leader, Audi S4 Competition driver Michael Galati, who finished fourth.
Acura remains third in the Manufacturers? Championship points chase, 24 points behind Porsche, and nine behind Audi.
Cunningham continues to lead all SPEED World Challenge series competitors for race wins (24), top-3 finishes (56), and top-5 finishes (73), to list a few. And in the most-poles race, yesterday?s quick time put him back to within one to teammate Pierre Kleinubing, who leads that category with 24 career pole positions.
Cunningham scored his second 2002 season pole position, but the first in the GT Championship this year, with an 82.054mph lap, just one one-hundredth of a mile per hour slower than his track record set last year. He exceeded his own existing race lap record of 80.413mph during the race, but Pobst went faster yet at 81.154mph.
?We can look on this weekend as the resurgence of RealTime, coming back from all the hardships we?ve suffered through on the GT team this season,? Cunningham said. ?I really have to hand it to the entire crew on both my GT and Touring car programs for putting excellent race cars out there. Laguna Seca is notoriously slippery, and tricky to set up for, but the RTR crew gave all our drivers the perfect suspension-tuning to out-handle the competition.
?At the start of the race, Michael Galati steamed by me going into the first turn to take away the lead, then Randy, who had been shoved around at the start, was able to close up on me because of a full-course caution, to clean up (previously second in points) Johannes van Overbeek?s disabled Porsche. On the restart, he flew past me in Turn Five, and passed Michael on lap nine, then sailed off into the beautiful sunset over Monterey Bay.
?In fact, I fell to fifth place on lap 10 when Paul Edwards knocked me silly. He was driving a Champion Audi in a one-off opportunity, and obviously didn?t care who he punted out there. He didn?t hit his teammate or the pace car, but few others were spared.
?After getting me sideways in Turn Five, we raced side-by-side up the hill toward Turn Six with him making deliberate moves to ram me off the road. Justin Marks took advantage of this mauling, passing both of us in his Porsche on the way to Turn Eight,? Cunningham continued. ?Unfortunately for Justin, he got the same treatment a lap later, as the Audi driver repeated his torture, allowing me to slip through.
?I was right back up on the Audi?s tail when he backed into me at the entry to the Corkscrew, spinning out of contention for the day,? Cunningham added. Afterward, acting Chief Steward Mitch Wright put the overly-aggressive Edwards on two-race probation for violations of three separate categories of Driver Conduct after having run-ins with at least four drivers.
?I eventually caught a fading Galati and was able to use the superior NSX brakes to pass him on the way to the Hairpin Turn 11. After that I was able to close in on Randy, and kept him under pressure for the last several laps, but even with 140lbs of REWARDS weight on board, the Porsche was just too strong.?
?For Pierre and me to finish 2-3 in the Touring Car race, and to bring home the NSX in second place in GT today, it was an important weekend as far as the season championship is concerned,? Cunningham added. ?The second feels almost as good as a win. But we remember what real wins feel like, and we have two more races to get back that feeling.?
The ninth SPEED GT race of the season will be Friday, October 11, at Road Atlanta, near Gainesville, Ga., as part of the Petit Le Mans ALMS race weekend.
The Laguna Seca SPEED GT race will debut on the SPEED Channel on Saturday, October 5, at 9pm EST, with a rebroadcast Sunday, October 6, at 2am EST.
The RealTime Racing Acura NSX-SC is sponsored by the Acura Division of American Honda, Red Line Oil, Eibach Springs, BOSCH, Vortech Superchargers, Sparco, Brembo, Gemini Technologies, Goodridge, Hawk Performance, Hella, and Acura of Brookfield.
RTR Touring Cars 2-3 at Laguna
Cunningham, Kleinubing Hold 1-2 in Points
September 21, 2002 ? Monterey, California
RealTime Racing drivers Peter Cunningham and Pierre Kleinubing strengthened their 1-2 standing in the SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship with podium finishes at Laguna Seca Raceway, near Monterey, Calif.
The RTR Acura Integra Type R teammates finished second and third in the 44-car race on the 2.238-mile road course. Kleinubing finished 1.5 seconds ahead of Cunningham.
With two races remaining in the Touring Car season, Cunningham has a 12-point lead over Kleinubing for the Drivers? Championship. Kleinubing is 15 points ahead of his nearest competitor, Mazda Protegé driver Paul Bonaccorsi, who finished fifth.
A remarkable inaugural win by Audi A4 driver Paul Lambert, starting only his fifth Touring Car race, and who had never finished higher than 14th, helped Acura move within two points of Mazda, and within 12 points of BMW?s lead for the Manufacturers? Championship.
?The start of the race was crazy,? said Kleinubing. ?There were cars everywhere in Turn Two, but I managed to stay out of trouble. Peter and I have always felt the Acura Integra?s long-suit is its braking ability, and that helped us tremendously today, but power-wise, we didn?t have anything for the Audi.? That car has received preparation rule breaks from SCCA Pro Racing.
Kleinubing was one of five drivers who qualified under the old record, and was gridded third. Cunningham qualified sixth fastest, new RTR driver Zac Mazzotta was 22nd, and Fred Meyer was 39th .
Kleinubing passed Chuck Hemmingson?s Mazda Protegé at the start to take second place, and held that spot until the end, finishing 1.05 seconds behind Lambert.
Cunningham had a much harder time earning his podium finish. ?I knew the first few corners were going to be tough,? he said, ?but I still felt like a steel ball in a pinball machine out there. After the start, I was bumped in Turn Two, shoved completely sideways in Turn Three, and slammed and rammed in Turn Four. After that, things settled down somewhat, but I was lucky to still have all four wheels pointed in the same direction!?
Cunningham passed Trois-Rivieres victor Hemmingson for fifth place in Turn Ten three laps into the 25-lap contest, passed Ken Dobson?s BMW two laps later after the Mosport winner bobbled in Turn Six, and took a hard-fought third on lap 22, passing two-time 2002 race winner Bonaccorsi in Turn 11. ?It was fun to race with Chuck, Ken and Paul, because they are all professionals, and not one drop of paint was traded between cars,? Cunningham said.
?Given the trouble some of the other title contenders had, Pierre and I earning podium finishes is almost like a win,? he told the media.
Mazzotta finished 20th, in the points and in the money. ?Zac did a fine job for his first time in a Touring Car Championship race,? Cunningham said. ?Late in the going he was up as high as fifteenth, but got cleaned out by a Mazda and was pushed back a few spots. The more time he gets to spend in the car, the faster he?ll become.? Meyer also found a similar fate with his car and finished 34th after moving toward the top-25.
The Laguna Seca Touring Car race will debut on the SPEED Channel on Saturday, October 5, at 8pm EST.
The next SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship race will be Friday, October 11 at Road Atlanta, Ga., as part of the Petit Le Mans ALMS race weekend.
The RealTime Racing Acura Integras are sponsored by the Acura Division of American Honda, Red Line Oil, Eibach Springs, BOSCH, Sparco, Hella, Goodridge, Gemini Technologies, Brembo, Hawk Performance, and Acura of Brookfield.