Kleinubing "bumped" from possible podium finish July 27, 2003 - Sonoma, California You wouldn't know just how good a race the RealTime Racing Acura team had at Infineon Raceway from reading the results. And all that happened on the most...
Kleinubing "bumped" from possible podium finish
July 27, 2003 - Sonoma, California
You wouldn't know just how good a race the RealTime Racing Acura team had at Infineon Raceway from reading the results. And all that happened on the most personally-stressful race weekend the team has ever endured.
RealTime Racing Acura RSX team leader Pierre Kleinubing was in third place with six laps remaining in this, the fifth round of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship, when he was hit from behind by the fourth place car.
The resulting pit stop for a new right rear tire dropped the three-time series champion to 20th place at the finish, good for only seven championship points, not the 26 points he had hoped for.
Zac Mazzotta qualified 13th in his RSX, suffered a similar fate, and finished 26th.
Kevin McKee, racing on his "home" track at the north edge of San Francisco Bay, was the second-highest Acura driver in the finish order, bringing his Integra home in 16th place, after qualifying 31st. Both Mazzotta and McKee are solid contenders for the series Rookie of the Year honor.
The results keep both Kleinubing and Acura in second place for their Driver's and Manufacturer's Championships, but the spreads are now 30 and 14 points, respectively.
The team's mood all weekend had never been more somber, yet never more dedicated, following the death Tuesday of their long-time friend and crew chief, Jerome Zimmermann, of injuries suffered in a car-motorcycle accident four days earlier.
Paul Truess, who worked as crew chief for the team 10 years ago, stepped in to help.
"Jerry set the tone for the RealTime crew, a tone they carried on this weekend," Truess said. "Their focus and dedication made my job easier, despite the emotional roller coaster we all found ourselves on. I was proud of the way they gathered their thoughts and emotions and worked their way through the memorial services and public tributes to Jerry's much-missed presence. I knew Jerry very well. He'd be proud of them, too."
Truess was especially pleased with Mazzotta, who returned to the race track ahead of the race leader after his accident and was never caught. "Kevin did a great job, too," Truess added. "His car had braking problems all weekend, but he ran strong all day. He picked up 15 places from where he started, and that impressed me."
The next outing for RealTime Racing will be Aug. 8-10 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where the series will play before an immense crowd on a CART weekend.
The Infineon Raceway Touring Car event will air on the SPEED Channel, Saturday, August 2, at 4 p.m. EST.