Peter Cunningham wowed the crowd at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, driving TeamRTR's Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V from 38th place early on the race's opening lap, to a solid fifth place when the checkered flag fell 26 laps later. His ...
Peter Cunningham wowed the crowd at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, driving TeamRTR's Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V from 38th place early on the race's opening lap, to a solid fifth place when the checkered flag fell 26 laps later.
His finish matched that two weeks ago in California, and moved him from 12th to ninth place in the SCCA Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship. It also earned two more Manufacturer's points for Nissan.
"I knew from experience that the first few corners of the race would be critical here at Mid-Ohio, but we didn't plan for the possibility of another competitor losing control in such a big way as the start lights were still warm," Cunningham said. "In the second corner, my teammate Eric Curran was clouted by an out-of-control Mazda, breaking the suspension on his Sentra, and shoving his car into mine. Eric made it around to the pits, but his day was done. And after a trip through the pea gravel and returning to the fray in last place, my car was okay, but I had plenty of work to do. If they awarded points for passing cars, we'd be in great shape - 33 cars today, and 34 in this race last year."
Cunningham, the defending Touring Car Driver's Champion, was gridded 15th in the 38-car field, and Curran 16th. "In difficult conditions on a wet but drying track, Eric was only .034 seconds behind me in qualifying, which again shows us he's for real. For him to be taken out was frustrating, but he will be back stronger than ever. At this point, the top- three in the Manufacturer's Championship are beyond the reach of Nissan in their start-up season, but we have Lexus and Audi in our sites, so we have something to shoot for. This isn't their rookie season, either."
Cunningham was officially in 34th place at the end of the first lap. By running consistent practice-speed laps, he was 18th by lap four, in 10th place by lap 15, and went from seventh to fifth in the final four laps.
"The car wasn't hurt, and was very capable of repeatable fast laps," he said. In fact, his fastest race lap was exceeded by only one other car. "That was faster than the old qualifying record, which shows us the Nissan Sentra is very much in the ballpark. I wish official qualifying had been held in consistent conditions so we could have shown more of the car's potential."
Mid-Ohio's Touring Car race will be televised on the SPEED Channel, Friday, Aug. 22 at 9 pm EST.
Round Seven of the SPEED Touring Car Championship will be Aug. 22-24 at Road America, TeamRTR's home track.