LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 28, 2001)- Pierre Kleinubing extended his SCCA Pro Racing Speedvision World Challenge Touring Car Championship points lead with a dominating flag-to-flag win at Monday's Lime Rock Park Grand Prix. Don Salama, of Avon,...
LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 28, 2001)- Pierre Kleinubing extended his SCCA Pro Racing Speedvision World Challenge Touring Car Championship points lead with a dominating flag-to-flag win at Monday's Lime Rock Park Grand Prix. Don Salama, of Avon, Conn., and Neal Sapp, of Ellicott City, Md., completed the top three.
Kleinubing started his No. 1 RealTime Racing Acura Integra R from the pole, but watched Steve Pfeffer go from fourth to first in turn one. It wouldn't last long, however, as Kleinubing mimicked the move one lap later, and never looked back to take a 2.732-second win, averaging 75.635 mph over the 61.2-mile event.
"It might have looked easy, but it wasn't at all," said Kleinubing. "[David] Leslie and [Don] Salama started to put some pressure on me, and I was able to hold off the challenge. The reason I was able to do that was because my car was so good coming out of turn one. That, and the fact that I was pulling away from them by one or two tenths of a second through three and four. Hey, this is RealTime Racing. This is what it's all about."
Leslie ran second for the first 15 laps in the No. 2 Mirko Racing Mazda 626, but an engine failure opened the door for Salama. Driving the No. 94 Large Inc./H&R Springs BMW 325is, Salama was able to close on Kleinubing under the race's second restart, but did not have enough to mount a serious challenge.
"We came into qualifying this morning, and, to be frank, the car was lousy," said Salama. "We made a major change right before the race, and it really paid off. When Alfred [duPont] and Hugh [Plumb] went off behind me, it created a big gap and Pierre and I were able to pull away. Then, the other cars just seemed to work their way back into my mirror."
Sapp, who was second on the grid in the No. 55 duPont Motorsports/ERT BMW 325is, led the pack, but it was not easy. On the formation lap prior to the standing start, Sapp's hood opened, necessitating a stop to the pits to put the hood pins back in. Starting last from the pit lane, Sapp worked his way back through the field.
On lap 19, as the cars approached turn one, Sapp made contact with the rear of Pfeffer's car, sending the early leader heavily into the barrier. Pfeffer was uninjured in the accident, but fell from second to fifth in the point standings.
"The accident was pretty bizarre and very unfortunate," said Sapp. "He's a nice guy and probably the last one I'd want to have that happen to. He slowed quicker than I thought he would for one, and I hit him pretty square in the back.
"We've had some bad luck the past couple races, and I thought we were over it. But, with the hood, I guess not. I was very excited to get on the podium with so many cars in front of us."
Will Turner, of Newburyport, Mass., came home fourth, followed by Mike Fitzgerald, of Phoenix, Ariz.
Chuck Hemmingson, of Des Moines, Iowa, earned the Borla Performance Award after his seventh place finish. He had run as high as fourth in his Mazda Protégé.
Kleinubing now leads Salama by 37 points (148 to 111) heading into a two-month layoff. Hugh Plumb is third (105), followed by Terry McCarthy (100) and Pfeffer (99).