October 26, 2003 - San Juan, Puerto Rico Pierre Kleinubing and the ...
October 26, 2003 - San Juan, Puerto Rico Pierre Kleinubing and the #42 RealTime Racing Acura RSX ended the 2003 SCCA Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship season with a strong second place in today's race at the new Isle Grand Prix Circuit in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
With his fifth podium finish of the year, in the first full season for the radical new Acura RSX, Kleinubing finished second in the Driver's Championship points, and led Acura to an equal runner-up spot for the Manufacturer's Championship.
During the annual awards banquet following the race, the RealTime Racing crew was named Touring Car Crew of the Year by a vote of their competitors.
"We didn't threaten BMW for either championship as much as we wanted," Kleinubing said, "but this was still a learning year for the Acura RSX. With 2003 now behind us, we're well-positioned to give Acura a fifth Manufacturer's Championship in 2004."
Kleinubing admitted he and the RealTime crew didn't have the handling quite right in qualifying for the 1.6-mile temporary circuit. "This track was a new experience for everyone," he said. "We missed the mark in qualifying, but made up for it in the race."
Zac Mazzotta, a rookie in the Touring Car series, scored his second straight 11th place finish in his RealTime RSX, moving up from a 17th place start; while fellow rookie Kevin McKee finished 14th in his Acura Integra, his best finish of the season.
Mazzotta's strong finishes in the season boosted him to 21st in the points, the sixth-highest rookie. McKee was only two places behind Mazzotta, despite missing one race.
On a track still wet from a rain shower in this humidity-soaked area of the Caribbean, Kleinubing jumped from his seventh place on the grid to second by the end of the first lap, and took the lead on lap three when the pole- sitting driver suffered a mechanical failure. He held the lead through lap 13, before the dry tire-shod BMW of series champion Bill Auberlen worked his way to the front and stayed there.
"For the first half of the race, my wet-weather tires were the better choice," he said, "but as the track dried, I just didn't have the speed to hold him off."
Qualifying was indicative of the series' competitiveness, with the fastest 15 cars under one second apart. Kleinubing was .405 seconds off the pole, with Mazzotta another 1.117 behind him, and McKee another .202 back.
The San Juan Touring Car event will air on the SPEED Channel, Saturday, Nov. 15, at 4 p.m. EST.