Acura Win at Road America Disallowed Pierre Kleinubing led all 17 laps of today's SPEED World Challenge Touring Car race at Road America, but hours after the champagne had been sprayed, the win was taken away from him. ...
Acura Win at Road America Disallowed
Pierre Kleinubing led all 17 laps of today's SPEED World Challenge Touring Car race at Road America, but hours after the champagne had been sprayed, the win was taken away from him. SCCA Pro Racing officials disqualified the popular driver's RealTime Racing Acura TSX in post-race impound for technical non-compliance.
Kleinubing had qualified on the outside of the front row for the 17- lap race on the 4.084-mile circuit, took the lead halfway through the opening lap, and never looked back, winning by more than six seconds.
"The 2004 Vehicle Technical Specifications (VTS) provide a list of allowable modifications for each specific model of car," said Team Manager Nathan Bonneau. "The TSX VTS did not allow all of the same upgrades from stock configuration as the RSX. The onus for proper configuration rests with each competitor, and when it comes to the pieces in question, we made a significant but unintentional error.
"In the meantime, we feel awful for Pierre, because he drove such a great race. Of course it was no fault of his own that this victory was taken away. Everyone here at RealTime believes he would have won that race with or without the change in question, but we also understand that that's not the point and the sanctioning body had to do what it saw fit," Bonneau added.
In 12 years of competing in the World Challenge Championship with a multi-car team, RealTime Racing has been not only the most successful team, but also the most scrutinized. And in close to 400 team entries since 1993, until now no RealTime Touring Car has ever been found to be out of compliance.
"Because of RealTime Racing's long association with Acura and our other sponsors, we have never wanted to risk doing anything which would generate negative news like this," Bonneau added. "But the mistake was ours so we're going to take our licks and refocus our energies on preparing for the last two races of the year."
Third in Drivers' points Matt Plumb qualified fourth in his RealTime Acura TSX and ran between fifth and sixth place through much of the race. With the pair of wins and the other top finishes he has had this year, he was carrying 245 pounds of R.E.W.A.R.D.S. weight. This may have contributed to a brake problem which developed in the second half of the race, causing him to fade. He persevered for an eighth place finish, 12 seconds out of the lead and remains third in the Drivers' Championship points.
Nick Esayian qualified 21st in his Total Trolley/ Datamine Acura RSX and picked up five spots early in the race, but on lap six, while pushing hard towards the front, he dropped a wheel in the high-speed kink. The resulting scrape against the wall was enough to send him to the infield care center for observation.
Mike Van Sicklen joined RealTime Racing this weekend to drive the team's second Acura RSX. Van Sicklen was gridded 28th after experiencing problems in qualifying, but passed more cars than any other competitor to earn the series' Sunoco Hard Charger of the Race award. He finished 16th.
The Road America race will be televised on the Speed Channel, Sunday, August 29, at noon (EDT).
The next race, ninth of ten in this year's series, will be September 22-25 at Road Atlanta, as a part of the Petit LeMans weekend.
The RealTime Racing Acuras are sponsored by the Acura Division of American Honda, A-SPEC Performance Parts, Red Line Oil, Eibach Springs, BOSCH, Sparco, Hella, Brembo, Hawk Performance, and Acura Genuine Parts.