RealTime Acuras Keep Points Leads REWARDS are not rewards July 17, 2005 -- Sonoma, Calif. --- With the majority of their five Acuras handicapped by REWARDS weight, plus an additional 50-pound 'competition-adjustment' increase for the Acura...
RealTime Acuras Keep Points Leads
REWARDS are not rewards
July 17, 2005 -- Sonoma, Calif. --- With the majority of their five Acuras handicapped by REWARDS weight, plus an additional 50-pound 'competition-adjustment' increase for the Acura TSX model, it was fortunate that RealTime Racing left Infineon Raceway with their Manufacturers' and Drivers' points leads.
Acura saw its 10-point lead in the SPEED Touring Car Championship cut by 60%, as no orange & white car was able to place in the top-five for the first time this season. A resurgent BMW, on the strength of back-to-back wins here in Sonoma and the previous round at Lime Rock, now rejoins the battle in earnest as Acura manages to hold the lead for the series Manufacturers' Championship by four over Mazda and by 11 over BMW.
RealTime Acura drivers Peter Cunningham and Pierre Kleinubing already own three World Challenge titles apiece, and expect to continue their duel for this year's championship to the final race. Cunningham still leads with 174 points, but Kleinubing took away one-third of his team leader's advantage by closing the gap to six. Mazda's Randy Pobst is their closest challenger in third, another 20 markers behind.
Prior to the Infineon event, SCCA Pro Racing added an additional 50 pounds of ballast to the base weight of the team's three Acura TSX cars raced by Cunningham, Kleinubing and Rookie of the Year runaway Brandon Davis, and removed 50 pounds from the two Acura RSX cars raced by Eric Curran and Nick Esayian.
Cunningham and Kleinubing were already max'ed-out at 250 pounds of REWARDS weight because of their consistency and success in the first six races, while Curran carried 50 pounds. Neither Davis nor Esayian carried any REWARDS weight.
Kleinubing qualified seventh, highest for the team, followed by Davis in ninth, Cunningham and Curran in 11th and 12th, respectively, and Esayian in 15th. Davis, however, lost his qualifying position because of flat-spotted tires and was forced to start 26th.
"Brandon continues to impress his team and the rest of the World Challenge community with drives like he turned in today. Part of being a rookie in this series is having to face adversity like the problem he had in qualifying," Cunningham reported. "He kept a cool head and sliced his way to the front cleanly for his fifth consecutive top-10."
Davis picked up 10 positions in the first four laps, was in the top-10 by lap 11, and to seventh spot by lap 14, where he stayed until the end.
Bill Auberlen, making his third start of the season in a BMW 325i with only 135 pounds of REWARDS weight, won the race over pole-sitter Pobst in a Mazda6, who was only toting 60 additional pounds.
Kleinubing finished sixth, followed by Davis less than one-tenth of a second back. Cunningham finished ninth, while Curran ran in the top-10 before settling for 12th.
Esayian finished a disappointing 22nd after having to pit to change a nail-punctured tire while running in 13th place. "Nick was better than that today," Cunningham said. "He had a strong start and was looking quite racy until he realized he had a tire going down. The crew performed a quick stop, but with the whole race running under green flag conditions, he had no chance of getting back to where he was. It was a bad deal."
Curran and Davis maintain their respective positions of fourth and sixth in the Drivers' Championship, and Esayian's unrepresentative result dropped him one spot to 12th.
"Our drivers did a commendable job carrying these lead trophies around the track today, finishing ahead of a number of competitors they probably shouldn't have," Team Manager Nathan Bonneau said. "We have less than two weeks to prepare for Portland where we hope to improve our results.
"PIR should be interesting," he added. "Like Lime Rock, it runs clockwise and therefore is predominantly a right-hand circuit. All our REWARDS weight is carried on the right side, so that's better than the alternative. But the corners are all medium-speed sweepers and the rest of the track is an engine dynamometer check. Horsepower is your friend there."
Round Eight will take place at Portland International Raceway on July 29-31, where the RealTime Acuras scored a one-two punch in 2004 on a day where the team was assisted by the mercury exceeding 100F.
The Infineon race was televised on SPEED TV with a 15-minute delay and re-aired Monday at 100p.
The RealTime Acura team is sponsored by the Acura Division of American Honda, A-SPEC, Red Line Oil, Eibach Springs, Memphis Car Audio, buyBrakes.com, BOSCH, Sparco, Hawk Performance, Brembo, SportCompactCar, Valley Graphix, Total Auto Body, PACT and A-YES.