Lambert takes first Speed Touring Car victory leading flag-to-flag MONTEREY, Calif., (September 21, 2002) - Paul Lambert, of Los Gatos, Calif., lead flag-to-flag to capture his first career SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car...
Lambert takes first Speed Touring Car victory leading flag-to-flag
MONTEREY, Calif., (September 21, 2002) - Paul Lambert, of Los Gatos, Calif., lead flag-to-flag to capture his first career SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, part of the Monterey Sports Car Championships. Pierre Kleinubing, of Erexim, Brazil, and Peter Cunningham, of W. Bend, Wis., completed the top three.
Starting from the Woody's Ice pole position, Lambert got a great jump from the standing start, in his No. 77 Sonneen Motorcars/Stevens Creek Audi A4, and would lead every lap of the 25-lap event, holding off Kleinubing for a 1.05-second win, averaging 71.431 mph.
"It's been a long road to get here," said an excited Lambert. "I really have to thank all the sponsors and Audi for giving us a lot of support.
"The SCCA gives you a lot leniency in the rules to encourage manufacturers, but to get a win you still have to build a good car."
The start was not incident free though, as several cars farther back in the 49-car field, including Will Turner, of Newburyport, Md., collided as they entered turn two, leaving Turner well behind the field. He would eventually recover to finish in 15th position.
Driving the No. 1 RealTime Racing Acura Integra R, Kleinubing was able to grab second spot at the start from Chuck Hemmingson, of W. Des Moines, Iowa, and battled early with Paul Bonaccorsi, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
"The start was really crazy, but I managed to stay out of trouble," said Kleinubing. "I drove a hard race and had a good car under breaking, but I really didn't have anything for the Audi today."
Cunningham, starting sixth in the No. 42 RealTime Racing Acura Integra R, worked his way toward the front of the grid, passing Hemmingson on lap three and Ken Dobson, of Carmel Valley, Calif., two laps later on lap five. Cunningham finally passed Bonaccorsi on lap 23, moving into a podium finishing position.
"At the start I was like a pinball out there," said Cunningham. "Somehow I managed to keep the car going forward and, by midway through the first lap, things had settled down.
"Given the trouble some of the other title contenders had, me and Pierre leaving here with podium finishes is almost like a win."
Hemmingson driving the No. 19 OPM Motorsports/Crocotile/TBPG Mazda Protégé, and Bonaccorsi, in the No. 40 TriPoint Motorsports/Mazdaspeed Mazda Protégé completed the top five.
The race was slowed by one caution for four laps. Grant Lockwood, of Cumming, Ga., captured the B&M Holeshot Award after advancing eight positions at the start.
Following the event, Alfred duPont was suspended for one event for rough driving, by the chief steward.
Cunningham maintains the point lead, with 201, over teammate Kleinubing, with 189. Behind the duo are Bonaccorsi (174), Turner (169), Hemmingson (167) and Marc Kirberg (167), all within striking distance. BMW maintains its lead in the Manufacturers' Championship standings, with 53, now followed by Mazda (43), Acura (41) and Lexus (22).
The race will be broadcast on SPEED Channel October 5 at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern)
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