RealTime Takes Trip on Autobahn Acuras Return to Podium at New Venue July 26, 2009 -- Autobahn Country Club, Joliet IL The first professional race weekend held at the newly opened Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois was an improvement...
RealTime Takes Trip on Autobahn
Acuras Return to Podium at New Venue
July 26, 2009 -- Autobahn Country Club, Joliet IL
The first professional race weekend held at the newly opened Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois was an improvement for the RealTime Acura team, which saw drivers Peter Cunningham and Pierre Kleinubing return to the podium in second and third respectively in the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship.
The 18-turn, 3.56 mile road course was a challenging and technical course to which the Acura TSXs responded well. Cunningham ran well early in the weekend and set the bar for his team with the fastest lap on Friday's practice. When it mattered, in qualifying, Kuno Wittmer led the way putting his car in third, with Cunningham alongside in fourth and Kleinubing directly behind in sixth.
After a great start, Wittmer and Cunningham fell cleanly into the third and fourth slots. Cunningham rode teammate Wittmer hard and looked for holes to make his move. After a couple of laps he was finally able to pull ahead of Wittmer.
Cunningham continued to clock fast laps, but couldn't make much of an inroad on the leaders. After Seth Thomas' disabled BMW was stuck on course in a dangerous location, the Touring Car drivers saw a full-course yellow. Cunningham was torn, "I wasn't sure what to think; I was optimistic of my chances of pulling ahead, yet I knew there were a lot of angry guys behind me, gunning for my position."
The yellow set up the field for the first-ever Touring Car double-file restart for lap 15. At the green light, the leaders barreled into turn one and under steered wide, which allowed Cunningham to take a tighter line and nab the position behind the leader, a move that earned him the AutoWeek Move of the Race.
As the drivers came down from the apex of the turn, jockeying for position, there was some contact between cars. Kleinubing stayed in third, but teammate Wittmer wasn't so lucky. After getting caught up in the melee off-road, Wittmer soldiered on to an eighth place finish.
Cunningham was also awarded the Debaufre Fastest Race Lap award, taking home the trophy of a Debaufre Swiss watch.
Autobahn Country Club founding member Joel Weinberger joined the RealTime Acura squad this weekend for a guest drive. The team was impressed with Weinberger's ability to quickly come up to speed at his first time in a front-wheel drive racing car. He seemed to have a blast as he raced his way to a ninth place finish.
In the Manufacturers' Championship battle, Mazda's checkered flag now erases Acura's lead, they are now tied with 43. BMW remains in third with 24.
The fight for the Drivers' Championship remains tight after Jason Saini's win, he retains first with 613 points, Cunningham moves up to second with 561, Kleinubing is third at 557, Thomas drops to fourth with 529, and Wittmer rounds out the fifth place spot with 517.
The next SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship race will be the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 7-9. The Acura Sports Car Challenge will likely be the largest collection of Acura and Honda powered vehicles at a single racing event.