RealTime Acura Wins at Mid-Ohio
PK Swills Champagne; PD ‘Eats Rhubarb’
May 22, 2005 – Lexington, Ohio Pierre Kleinubing earned RealTime Racing’s 56th World Challenge race victory at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course today in the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED Touring Car event, driving his Acura TSX across the line 1.397 seconds ahead of the field.
Finishing third was team (and series points) leader Peter Cunningham, who, on lap 21, made a move for the lead and ended up “eating rhubarb” as his Acura TSX was escorted off-course into the vast green world that borders the racing surface.
This was Kleinubing’s second consecutive win and the 23rd of his eight-year World Challenge career for RealTime Racing. It was, however, his first victory at Mid-Ohio.
After three race wins in four events, Acura extended its lead to 10 points over Mazda and 17 over BMW for the Touring Car Manufacturers’ Championship.
Cunningham’s fourth podium this year was the record 69th of his World Challenge career, giving him a 13-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship chase over Kleinubing.
Both Eric Curran and series Rookie of the Year front-runner Brandon Davis had their best finishes of the season. Curran drove his RealTime Acura RSX to a strong fifth place finish, moving up to fourth in Drivers’ points. Davis recorded his first top-5 qualifying spot on Saturday, and drove his TSX to a career-best sixth in the race. His string of four finishes in the top-11 put him sixth in the Drivers’ Championship and is looking quite strong for top-rookie honors where he holds a 43-point advantage over his closest challenger.
Nick Esayian was headed for a top-10 finish in his RSX, even after being caught up in the 13-car melee only 200 yards into the race. After a pit stop under full-course caution, the RealTime crew was able to make repairs and dispatch Esayian back into the fight on the lead lap albeit at the tail end of the pack. The mostly-together RSX surgically cut its way forward, but the car suddenly suffered an electrical failure on lap 16, perhaps residual damage from the earlier incident. Earning only five points dropped him three positions to 11th in Drivers’ points.
Kleinubing, who ran the first 20 laps in third place behind Cunningham and BMW driver Bob Stretch, told the media that the race’s happenings didn’t surprise him at all.
“That’s why we race,” he said. “I was watching to see what would happen with the others, and see if I could make a bid for the front someplace. I didn’t think I was going to be able to win, but I didn’t think I was going to be worse than third either.”
Cunningham picked the ‘Madness’ complex after Mid-Ohio’s long back straight to make his move for the lead, trying an outside pass on Stretch coming over the hill at Turn 8, causing screams from the crowd.
“I thought I had an honest bid to make the pass stick,” he said. “But I ended up ingesting a little rhubarb through the radiator. In the meantime, Pierre sneaked through.” That’s why they call it Madness.
Kleinubing kept the heat on the leader and drove to the point three corners later when the BMW dropped wheels exiting Turn 11. Stretch hung on to finish second, despite numerous attempts from Cunningham who had to settle for third, .242 seconds behind.
During the race, Cunningham, Kleinubing, Curran and Davis all exceeded Mid-Ohio’s official race lap record for Touring Cars, laying down the 4th, 6th, 9th and 10th quickest laps, respectively. Remarkably, only .221 seconds separated the fastest laps recorded by the quartet.
“That says a lot about the strength and consistency of RealTime’s drivers, but it also speaks volumes for the quality and equality of preparation by the RealTime crew,” team manager Nathan Bonneau said. “We tested here a couple of weeks ago, and with limited dry track time during the race weekend, that early preparation played a major role in our performance!”
The Mid-Ohio race will be televised on SPEED TV, Saturday, May 28 at 3pm ET.
Round Five of the 11-race SPEED Touring Car battle is June 25 on Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport runways, where the World Challenge cars will share the bill with ChampCar. The series has not raced on the high-speed, temporary concrete circuit since 1992, featuring excellent viewing for spectators and only one turn that is not 90 degrees.
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.