TORONTO, Canada (July 15, 2013) – A strong qualifying performance from RealTime Acura went awry in Sunday’s Acura Sports Car Challenge when Peter Cunningham was unable to make the start of the race. Nick Esayian battled back from a rough start to finish eighth on the streets of Toronto.
The schedule for the Acura Sports Car Challenge was a condensed one, with qualifying slated for the same morning as the race, separated by just four hours. The RealTime guys were confident of their chances in the race as Cunningham placed the No. 42 Acura/HPD/RealTime Racing Acura TSX in third with a lap of 1:16.886 (82.173 mph) tying his best qualifying position of the season. Esayian entered a 1:18.875 (80.101 mph), good enough for ninth on the grid.
All of the optimism from qualifying was quickly dashed as Cunningham’s race ended before it even began. As the combined GT and GTS field set out for its formation lap, the No. 42 came to a halt on the back straight and Cunningham was unable to re-fire the engine.
“We’re still not sure what happened, but it was a catastrophic failure,” Cunningham said. “I was really looking forward to the race with how good the car felt in qualifying this morning. It was quite a shock considering this may be only the second time a RealTime car has missed the start of a race in our 21 years of World Challenge racing.”
The start of the race resumed after Cunningham’s car was cleared from the course. As Esayian placed his car in the proper starting position, it occurred to him that he couldn’t see the start lights. He finally got going when the pack launched away, and did well to not fall back any farther than 10th on the opening lap, while avoiding the other cars who also missed the start light cues. From there, Esayian’s No. 34 Acura/HPD/RealTime Racing Acura TSX found it difficult to go into attack mode.
After battling with two Mustangs for the first third of the race, Esayian had a moment in Turn Six where another car had made impact with one of the tire barriers, spilling water onto the track. Esayian kept his Acura pointing forward, but lost valuable ground on the Mustangs ahead. Staying out of trouble for the remainder of the race, he crossed the finish line in eighth.
“I think we missed the setup a little,” Esayian said. “The car was a handful coming off the brakes and that’s an important thing to have on this course. I did the best I could to maintain my position, but I didn’t have the edge to go on attack.”
Lawson Aschenbach went on to win the GTS race in his Chevrolet Camaro, followed by the Camaro of Andy Lee. Jack Baldwin, in a Porsche Cayman S, completed the podium in Toronto.
Cunningham is now sixth in the GTS Drivers’ Championship with 701 points. Esayian is eighth with 586 points. Acura is third in the GTS Manufacturers’ Championship.
TV The enhanced broadcast of the Acura Sports Car Challenge, part of the Indy 200 at Toronto will air on NBC Sports, Saturday, August 18th at 2PM ET.
RealTime gets a bit of a break before Rounds 11 & 12 of the GTS Championship, August 2 – 4, at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where last year, Cunningham and Esayian earned a one-two finish in the first half of the doubleheader and clinched the GTS Manufacturers’ Championship for Acura in the second half.