Lime Rock Doubleheader Fruitful for RealTime Acura Wittmer/Kleinubing 1-2 on Saturday, Cunningham/Kleinubing 2-3 on Monday Saturday RealTime Acura TSX drivers Kuno Wittmer and Pierre Kleinubing got the doubleheader weekend off on the right...
Lime Rock Doubleheader Fruitful for RealTime Acura
Wittmer/Kleinubing 1-2 on Saturday, Cunningham/Kleinubing 2-3 on Monday
RealTime Acura TSX drivers Kuno Wittmer and Pierre Kleinubing got the doubleheader weekend off on the right foot with an impressive one-two finish in Saturday's SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car race at Lime Rock Park. Wittmer's victory was his second of the season and RealTime Racing's eighth win at the historic northwestern Connecticut track since 1993.
RealTime's other three drivers also posted strong results inside the top-10: Peter Cunningham put his TSX in fifth, while Dino Crescentini (TSX) and Glenn Bocchino (RSX) had great runs to eighth and ninth. It was Cunningham's third top-five of the season, Crescentini's third consecutive top-10, and Bocchino's first career top-10 finish.
One other note worth mentioning from Saturday was Kleinubing's pole position. It was his second of the season and the record-extending 33rd of his fantastic 12-year career in the World Challenge Championship.
When the lights went out to start the race, it was second-starting Wittmer who got the jump to take the lead going into Turn 1. For 44 laps around the 1.53-mile bullring, the Acuras led the way, with only Chip Herr's Mazda within range to disrupt things.
Cunningham had his own battle a few seconds back with a pair of BMWs for fourth. When the leader of this trio spun from the pressure, Cunningham had to wait to see where the errant car would end up and lost ground to the remaining contender. The Acura was able to close the gap, but ran out of time and had to settle for fifth.
After a day off because of Connecticut's law against making too much noise on a Sunday, the Touring Cars were once again ready for battle on a simply gorgeous Memorial Day. This time it was Cunningham with the best of the Acura Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles-sponsored TSXs qualified in second, with Kleinubing and Wittmer lined up directly behind on the outside of the two-by-two grid in fourth and sixth.
The opening lap after the standing start can always be sketchy, as each of the drivers fights for real estate. And it seems at Lime Rock in particular, things can really get out of hand.
The good news is that four-fifths of the RealTime cars made it through cleanly, but for points-leader Wittmer, his chance to battle for the lead was taken away by an overzealous BMW in Turn 3. Fortunately for Kuno, he was able to rejoin the circuit at the back of the pack with a racecar that was still aligned properly.
When the cars made it back to the start-finish line, they were greeted by a full-course caution and a pile of twisted cars in Turn 1 that weren't quite as fortunate as those wearing the orange & white.
After the restart, Cunningham was able to keep the pressure on the Herr Mazda in the lead, but had nothing for him in the end. Cunningham was pleased with his season-best result finishing second with Kleinubing joining him on the podium in third.
Wittmer benefited from the bunch-up due to the double-yellows and methodically picked his way through the field to end up fifth--a great recovery to keep his points lead intact.
Bocchino had the best race in his short career to finish seventh, moving up five positions from Qualifying. Crescentini had to leave after Race One because of a prior commitment, and Grand Am Koni Challenge team owner Anthony Serra was happy to pinch hit at his home track for his World Challenge debut.
With very limited track time, he did his best to respect the equipment and get up to speed in a hurry. Like Bocchino, he too made it through the first lap schlamozzle and moved up five positions by the end to finish 12th with nary a scratch.
With the completion of this weekend, the 2008 SPEED Touring Car Championship is now halfway done, and the RealTime Acura team has a good bit to show for it. Most important, Acura enjoys an 11-point lead over Mazda in the coveted Manufacturers' Championship, 43-32.
And in the Drivers' Championship, Wittmer, Kleinubing and Cunningham hold station in the top-three, 517-511-461. Bocchino and Crescentini sit 13th and 15th with 210 and 190 points.
With five races remaining, anything can still happen, so the team remains focused to reach its 2008 goals.
As successful as RealTime has been in Connecticut over the years, it has only one win recorded in the neighboring state of New York, where the second half of the season commences on the weekend of June 5-8 at Watkins Glen.
That being said, the team certainly enjoys competing there, and it looks forward to continuing its string of top-three results!
Today's race will be televised Wednesday, June 4 at Noon ET on SPEEDtv.