RealTime's Kleinubing Takes Points Lead All Five Acura Drivers Finish in Top 10 RealTime Acura driver Pierre Kleinubing is three-for-three in podium finishes in the young 2006 SCCA SPEED Touring Car season, earning him the points lead in the ...
RealTime's Kleinubing Takes Points Lead
All Five Acura Drivers Finish in Top 10
RealTime Acura driver Pierre Kleinubing is three-for-three in podium finishes in the young 2006 SCCA SPEED Touring Car season, earning him the points lead in the Drivers' Championship. Kleinubing turned in a valiant performance at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course today, successfully fending off a Mazda and an Audi to cross the line in second.
Kleinubing started the race from the inside of the front row--his 27th career pole position, but his first since October of 2004. When the lights went out signaling the start of the 27-lap contest, his Acura Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles-sponsored TSX made a clean getaway, but it couldn't match the launching capability of the second place qualifier's Audi A4 Quattro.
Kleinubing knew his chances of holding the lead into the first turn were slim, but had a plan to pressure the leader until he made a mistake or his tires lost their grip. Unfortunately, the speed of the leader was too much for the Acura driver, who instead had all he could handle with threats from behind.
"Pierre's driving today was superb," said team manager Nathan Bonneau, "but what also pleases us as a team, is that this is the first time we've achieved top 10 finishes with all five of our cars.
"That shows solid and consistent preparation by the RealTime Acura team, led by our Crew Chief Mike Busalacchi. The time spread for the fastest race laps turned by all five drivers was less than a second."
Kleinubing's TSX was only 3.304 seconds behind winner Chip Herr's Audi at the finish on the newly-repaved 2.258-mile circuit, in a race that saw the cars run single-file behind the safety car on three occasions.
Peter Cunningham was the second highest finishing Acura in seventh, after being as low as 30th on lap two after serving a stop-and-go penalty for jumping the start. Upon display of the 'five-second board', Cunningham selected first gear in preparation for the standing start, but when he did so, the car inched forward. Even though he was stationary before the red lights even came on, and he waited patiently for them to be extinguished before he moved again, the SCCA Pro Racing officials ruled it a jump so Cunningham's third place start was thrown away.
"I was right behind Pierre, safely in third, when I heard talk on the radio of a jumped start--I couldn't believe it! But I've been doing this long enough to know if you ignore a black flag, things only get worse from there so I came in," Cunningham lamented.
"Coming from the back at Mid-Ohio is something I seem to have to do a lot, so I made the best of it. The three full-course cautions were nicely spaced and I was proud to move up as far as I did without touching anyone. There seemed to be quite a bit of contact out there, but luckily it was all happening in front of or behind me."
The three remaining RealTime pilots reached the checkered flag in succession. Brandon Davis drove his TSX to eighth, while the RSXs of Nick Esayian and Eric Curran finished the day in ninth and tenth. That gives RealTime's drivers 13 of a possible 15 top-10 finishes in the first three races.
Acura went into the race trailing Mazda by five points for the Manufacturers' Championship, but went home only two points down to their arch rival, as Kleinubing was able to keep Mazda driver Jeff Altenburg at bay.
Kleinubing is now one point ahead in the Drivers' Championship chase over Mazda racer Randy Pobst. Cunningham fell to fourth place, one point behind Herr.