Wittmer Best Acura at Wet Atlanta Scores his 'Fourth Fourth' after carnage in front For awhile there, it looked as though RealTime might have two Acuras on the podium today, at a drenched Road Atlanta, Round Nine of the 2007 SPEED Touring Car ...
Wittmer Best Acura at Wet Atlanta Scores his 'Fourth Fourth' after carnage in front
For awhile there, it looked as though RealTime might have two Acuras on the podium today, at a drenched Road Atlanta, Round Nine of the 2007 SPEED Touring Car Championship. Peter Cunningham and Kuno Wittmer were running two-three behind eventual winner Michael Galati's Mazda after a late race restart when Cunningham was rammed in the door by a spinning BMW at the apex of Turn Nine.
The BMW 325i, driven by local driver Seth Thomas, appeared to be unbeatable until he was mugged on the Lap 16 restart dropping him all the way to fourth. As the pack approached the braking zone at the end of the long back straight, Thomas locked his brakes, rammed Wittmer from behind and spun to the inside. After ricocheting off the concrete barrier, the BMW careened into the path of Cunningham as he negotiated Turn Nine, ending the day's terrific drive for both.
Cunningham managed to limp his battered Acura to the pits, but the damage to car and driver was too great to continue. "I don't know if I could have passed Michael for the lead, but I was happy to be running as strongly as I was," Cunningham reported.
"I remember getting interviewed after the accident for SPEEDtv, but my next memory was in the Infield Care Center where they were trying to tell me the incident occurred at Turn Five. I said I began to feel better when, after further clarification, it was established that my initial recollection was the correct one!"
Meanwhile, Wittmer continued the fight, recovering from the melee in third and holding the position until the last lap when Thomas' teammate James Clay showed the strength of his BMW and snagged the position. It was a bitter disappointment for Wittmer who was in line for his first World Challenge podium. Still, the fourth place result was Acura's best finish, but not enough to prevent Mazda from clinching the Manufacturers' Championship with one event remaining on the 2007 calendar.
Defending Touring Car Champion Pierre Kleinubing also made his presence known on the weekend with a fifth place finish in his Certified Pre-Owned-sponsored Acura. After stalling it at the start, he fell to 11th, but repassed three cars on Lap 1 and was in position to place in the top-five before wounding his mount in the previously mentioned fracas. Now with a firmer hold on to third in the Drivers' points, Kleinubing can move up at least one position at the finale.
Nick Esayian and Brandon Davis finished eighth and ninth for the day. Esayian ran as high as sixth in the blinding conditions before settling for what was still his season-best finish, while Davis recovered from a pair of off-course excursions to secure his third top-10 of 2007.
The Road Atlanta race will air on the SPEED Channel on a tape-delayed basis on Saturday, October 13 at 200p EDT.