Acura Secures 7th Manufacturers' Title; Cunningham 3rd/Wittmer 4th at Mosport stripe August 24, 2008 -- Bowmanville, Ontario Canada -- A fortuitous third place finish today by RealTime Acura team owner Peter Cunningham assured Acura of its...
Acura Secures 7th Manufacturers' Title; Cunningham 3rd/Wittmer 4th at Mosport stripe
August 24, 2008 -- Bowmanville, Ontario Canada -- A fortuitous third place finish today by RealTime Acura team owner Peter Cunningham assured Acura of its unprecedented seventh Manufacturers' Championship in the SCCA Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship.
Round Nine of the ten-event road racing championship for production-based touring sedans was held north of the border at the historic Mosport International Raceway. After qualifying ninth, Cunningham steadily moved forward in a tight field whose fastest race laps were only separated by 0.813 of a second. While pushing hard to what appeared to be a fifth place finish and in sight of the finish line, the third place BMW decided to attempt a pass on the second place Mazda.
As the two spinning cars were trying to regain their footing, Cunningham and Canadian teammate Kuno Wittmer took the checkers in third and fourth, scoring enough Manufacturers' points to seal the deal for Acura with one event remaining on the 2008 calendar.
"Our objective today was to do everything in our power to place one of our cars in the top four, which would clinch the championship for Acura," said Cunningham. "It was apparent after Qualifying that that task was going to be difficult, and when 27 and 7/8ths of the scheduled 28 laps were complete, we were resigned to the fact that we'd have to wait for the finale to ice the title. When the melee emerged in front of me and I made it safely through into third, I started cheering in my helmet!"
Coming into the weekend, the chase for the title among the top three drivers was closer than ever before, with only five points separating them. The best of the RTR pilots in Qualifying was four-time driving titlist Pierre Kleinubing in fifth. He collected two more points for that result, tying him for second with Cunningham and only three points behind Wittmer for the lead heading into the race.
Unfortunately for Kleinubing, series race officials busted him for 'creeping' at the start line before the lights were extinguished, forcing him to the pits to serve a drive through penalty. In courageous style, he fought back and was credited with a remarkable sixth place finish.
Dino Crescentini finished one spot behind in seventh after qualifying 11th and team newcomer and Rookie of the Year contender Patrick Lindsey moved up one spot from his qualifying position to finish 11th.
The final round of the season will take place at the Petit Le Mans weekend, October 1-3 at Road Atlanta.
"Now, all five of our drivers can relax just a bit at Road Atlanta, enjoy the weekend knowing our first priority for any season has been achieved," noted crew chief Paul Truess. "With the Drivers' tally as close as it is, it will be a one-race shootout to see who will be named the 2008 Drivers' Champion."
The RTR boys head to the finale with Cunningham atop the Drivers' points standings, looking for his fifth title with the team which he founded. If he outscores his teammates but fails to win the race, he will become the second driver in four years to assemble a season filled with enough consistently-high results that he wins the championship without winning a race.
Wittmer has three wins here in his third season of Touring Car competition and sits second in the points, four behind Cunningham. Kleinubing has one victory of his own this year and runs third, 16 markers out of first.