SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Oct. 26, 2003) -- Bill Auberlen, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., grabbed his fourth SCCA Speed Touring Car win of 2003 in the season finale Round Ten race as part of the Puerto Rico Grand Prix in San Juan. Brazilian Pierre ...
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Oct. 26, 2003) -- Bill Auberlen, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., grabbed his fourth SCCA Speed Touring Car win of 2003 in the season finale Round Ten race as part of the Puerto Rico Grand Prix in San Juan. Brazilian Pierre Kleinubing and Eric Curran, of South Deerfield, Mass., completed the top three.
Prior to the start of the SCCA Speed Touring Car race, teams had to make the decision of which tires to race on, as shortly before the start of the race, the heavens opened up and down came the rain. Auberlen and the Turner Motorsport team decided to put dry tires on the No. 93 Turner Motorsport/H&R Springs BMW 325i and the decision paid off. Auberlen, who started third on the grid, battled then race leader Kleinubing for several laps before he grabbed the lead for good on lap 14. Auberlen drove deep into turn seven and passed Kleinubing under braking and took the lead coming out of eight. Auberlen won by 21.084-seconds at an average speed of 70.567 mph on the 10-turn, 1.6 mile Isla Grande Airport temporary circuit.
"I was behind Pierre [Kleinubing] and just waited for the track to dry a little bit," Auberlen said. "There were certain parts of the track that were better and when I had enough parts of the track that were dry enough for me to go, then I made my move. I made a lot of mistakes once I got ahead of him. I was slipping and sliding and he came back. We went back and forth. It was good clean racing. It was fun. Then the track dried out too much for his rain tires and I started marching away."
Auberlen recorded the fastest lap of the race with a 1:17.461 on lap 28 of the 31-lap event. Auberlen clinched the Touring Car Drivers' Championship at the Round Eight race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
After the track started to dry out, Kleinubing's decision to put rain tires on his No. 42 RealTime Racing Acura RSX-S did not quite work out the way he had planned.
"We had to gamble and go with the rain tires," Kleinbuing said of his decision. "We knew if it rained the whole race we had an awesome car for the situation. We felt like we made a good decision. We wouldn't have finished second otherwise."
Kleinubing, who finished runner-up in the SCCA Speed Touring Car Drivers' Championship, won three races and had five podium finishes this season.
Curran, who started sixth on the grid, knifed his way through traffic, passing fellow teammate and Peter Cunningham, of West Bend, Wis., to turn in his best performance of the season finishing third.
"This is very exciting," Curran said of his third place finish. "Everything that TeamRTR put together for this Nissan program is fabulous. I have had some tough luck in the last five races and this is a good finish to the year."
Curran's third place finish in the No. 2 Nissan Motorsports/TeamRTR/NISMO entry was his best ever SCCA Speed World Challenge finish. His previous career best was a fourth place finish was in a Speed GT car at Road Atlanta in 2001.
Cunningham finished fourth driving the No. 1 Nissan Motorsports/TeamRTR/NISMO Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V and Matt Richmond, of Mooresville, N.C., finished a career-best fifth in the No. 37 Bimmerworld/Ground Control/Hawk Performance BMW 328i.
Richmond won the Sunoco Hard Charger of the Race award for advancing 10 positions throughout the race. Matthew Sklarz, of Kent, Conn., won the B&M Holeshot award for advancing five positions on the first lap of the race.
Matt Plumb, driver of the No 50 duPont Motorsport BMW 325i, won the SCCA Speed World Challenge Touring Car Rookie of the Year award. Plumb finished the season with one second place finish and six top-10 finishes.
Pole winner Shauna Marinus led the first three laps of the race, the first of her career, but transmission problems sidelined her on lap four.
The final Speed Touring Car Drivers' Championship standings are as follows: Auberlen with a record 291 points, followed by Kleinubing (212 points), Will Turner (170), Cunningham (162) and Chuck Hemmingson (160).
BMW clinched the Speed Touring Manufacturers' Championship Presented by Racer Magazine at Road Atlanta, and finished with 72 points, followed by Acura (58 points), Mazda (43), Nissan (24), Lexus (18) and Audi (7).
Following the race, Charles Espenlaub, driver of the No. 13 Circuit City/Mazdaspeed Mazda Prot0x00e9g0x00e9, was placed on probation for the first two races of the 2004 season and was fined $250 for on-track contact during the race.
Today's race will initially air at 4:00 p.m. (EST) Saturday, Nov. 15 on Speed Channel.