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Lime Rock: Touring Car round five race report

Herr Wins Second Half of Lime Rock SPEED TC Doubleheader LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 26, 2008) -- Chip Herr, of Lititz, Pa., led every lap from the pole to capture his fifth career SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge win in Monday's second half of a...

Herr Wins Second Half of Lime Rock SPEED TC Doubleheader

LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 26, 2008) -- Chip Herr, of Lititz, Pa., led every lap from the pole to capture his fifth career SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge win in Monday's second half of a SCCA SPEED Touring Car doubleheader at Lime Rock Park. Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, Wis., and Pierre Kleinubing, of Coconut Creek, Fla., completed the podium.

Starting from his fourth-career pole, Herr got the jump off the standing start in his No. 97 Mazdaspeed/Tindol Motorsport MAZDA6 and sped away safely as a melee ensued in Turn One.

As the field stacked up into the braking area, seventh-starting Jason Saini's MAZDA6 got into the back of third-starting Michael Galati's MAZDA6, spinning him and collecting a number of cars in the process. While most were able to continue, Galati's disabled car brought out a full-course yellow and Saini ducked into the pits for repairs.

"Going through Turn One, I looked back and saw my teammate spinning sideways and thought 'oh boy,' and just put my mirror up and drove away," Herr said.

On the restart, Herr got away cleanly, but soon found himself on the rear bumper of the No. 29 GMG/Tecmark BMW 325Ci of James Sofronas, who came into the pits from fifth place to change a flat tire just as the field went green. Herr followed the BMW for several laps before finally bumping past in Turn One. Cunningham was not as fortunate.

"After the restart, I saw [Sofronas] coming out of the pit lane and I had a little bit of a gap on Peter," Herr said. "I thought he'd go wide so I could duck underneath him, but he stayed there. I'm not going to say [Sofronas] wasn't fast. He was in a quick car, but there were places he was holding me up and I radioed in to check the rules on lapped cars and the team was talking to me about it so I said 'okay I'll just get by him.' He had a good car, but I got around him."

Turning laps consistent with the leader, Sofronas held his own before finally moving over to allow Cunningham's No. 42 Acura/RealTime/Eibach/Red Line Acura TSX past. With the gap from first to second hovering right at one second, Herr and Cunningham matched lap times for the final 12 tours of the 65.79-mile event that was shortened by one lap from 44 to 43 due to a local noise curfew of 6 p.m. He won by 0.891-second.

"With this MAZDA6, I've been working really hard on getting it set up," Herr said. "I had the pole at VIR and that was my mistake in Turn One. My hat's off to the Tindol Motorsports team. They work really hard and Mazda is helping me out a lot this year. I did not have the fastest car on Saturday, but we went back and looked over data, looked over in-car camera, made some changes and in qualifying the car was literally perfect. It's probably the fastest weekend I've had in the car so far and I'm glad it happened now, because we still have half the season left to go."

Herr also turned the fastest lap of the race, an even 59 seconds (93.356 mph) around the seven-turn, 1.53-mile circuit.

Cunningham started alongside Herr on the front row and tucked in behind heading into Turn One. While he was in touch with Herr while the pack was behind Sofronas, once Herr moved by the BMW, Cunningham was never within striking distance. Nonetheless, he was pleased with the performance of the team overall in the doubleheader weekend, with four of the six possible podium finishes and a win on Saturday by Kuno Wittmer.

"At first, [Sofronas] was holding up both of us, but then Chip got by and I couldn't get by for the longest time," Cunningham said. "In the end, he gave it to me on a platter, because even though I wasn't hitting him in every corner, he was impeding my way a little bit, especially in the One-Two-Three complex. Once I got by him, I put my head down and just tried to chip away and got closer. But, Chip drove a great race and I didn't have anything to show him at the end.

"I think the Acuras were in fine form this weekend. They really like this place. Kuno [Wittmer] won Saturday's race and that was RealTime's eighth win with World Challenge at Lime Rock Park. So this is certainly a track that the RealTime Acuras enjoy."

Kleinubing, who finished second in Saturday's race in the No. 43 Acura/RealTime/Eibach/Red Line Acura TSX, made it back onto the podium Monday in third and cut into teammate Wittmer's point lead, which now stands at six, 517 to 511.

With the SPEED Touring Car race serving as the final event before the circuit undergoes a major renovation, Kleinubing was reflective of the circuit in which he has scored four wins and three poles.

"I'll definitely miss [the old Lime Rock Park configuration]," Kleinubing said. "This track has been a huge part of my success in World Challenge. I've won a bunch of races here and several poles. There might be a possibility we'll run again on this configuration and I hope we do."

Seth Thomas advanced from 10th to fourth in his No. 38 BimmerWorld BMW 325i and earned the Sunoco Hard Charger for picking up six positions in the race.

Wittmer had contact with Sofronas and slid off course in Turn Three on the opening lap, but recovered to finish fifth in his No. 44 Acura/RealTime/Eibach/Red Line Acura TSX.

Bill Auberlen (BMW 325i), Glenn Bocchino (Acura RSX), Jim Daniels (MAZDA6), Sofronas (BMW 325Ci) and Charles Espenlaub (MAZDA6) completed the top 10.

Daniels sliced his way through the first turn incident in his No. 75 Mazdaspeed/Stoptech/Racinghart MAZDA6 to advance eight positions on the opening lap and take home the Racing Electronics Holeshot Award.

Cunningham closed in on both of his RealTime teammates in the points, and sits third, with 461. Herr climbed to fourth in points (423), followed by Thomas (395) in fifth.

Mazda made up ground on Acura in the SCCA SPEED Touring Car Manufacturers' Championship Presented by RACER. Acura now leads 43 to 32.

-credit: scca pro racing

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Series PWC
Drivers Bill Auberlen , Pierre Kleinubing , Michael Galati , Peter Cunningham , Charles Espenlaub , Chip Herr , James Sofronas , Glenn Bocchino , Seth Thomas , Jim Daniels