Saini Fastest in Opening World Challenge Touring Car Sebring Practice SEBRING, Fla. (March 18, 2009) -- Jason Saini, of Fort Worth, Texas, was fastest in the opening practice session of the 2009 SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car...
Saini Fastest in Opening World Challenge Touring Car Sebring Practice
SEBRING, Fla. (March 18, 2009) -- Jason Saini, of Fort Worth, Texas, was fastest in the opening practice session of the 2009 SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car season Wednesday, in preparation of the Toyo Tires Season Opener, part of the 57th Annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring Presented by Fresh from Florida. Quebecois Kuno Wittmer and Pierre Kleinubing, of Coconut Creek, Fla., completed the top three.
Piloting the No. 74 Mazdaspeed/Stoptech/Racinghart MAZDA6 on a damp, but drying course, Saini's times improved throughout the 20-minute session. On his final tour around the 17-turn, 3.7-mile circuit, Saini entered the quickest time of the session, a 2:25.294 (91.676 mph).
"Conditions were a bit variable," Saini said. "It was damp this morning, but it got better throughout the session. It was hard to learn what the car was really doing in the changing conditions. I was lucky to have a late lap when the conditions were getting better every lap."
With sponsorships coming together at the last minute for Saini and the Tri-Point squad, the 2008 World Challenge Touring Car Rookie of the Year was thrilled to be in the driver's seat at Sebring and proud of the team's exhaustive efforts to make the event.
"It feels great [to be at Sebring]," beamed Saini. "It's been a few months of working really hard and some sponsors stepped up to help for this race. Hopefully, we can carry some things forward for the rest of the season. It just feels good to be here now, not worry about that and do the job at hand.
"The team has done such a great job pulling things together in short order. So many people pulled together to make this happen at the last minute. All credit to the team for staying up late all last week and getting these cars together."
Before Saini's late flier, RealTime teammates Wittmer and Kleinubing took turns swapping spots at the top of the practice order. At the checkered flag, Wittmer stood second fastest in the No. 44 Acura/RealTime/Red Line Oil Acura TSX with a 2:25.358 (91.635 mph). Last year's Sebring race winner, Kleinubing, topped out at a 2:25.564 (91.506 mph) in the No. 42 Acura/RealTime/Red Line Oil Acura TSX.
Saini's Tri-Point teammate Charles Espenlaub ended the session fourth-fastest in the No. 73 Mazdaspeed/Stoptech/Racinghart MAZDA6. Espenlaub's best was a 2:25.961 (91.257 mph).
Defending World Challenge Touring Car Champion Peter Cunningham completed the top five in his No. 1 Acura/RealTime/Red Line Oil Acura TSX. The only RealTime pilot driving the new body style TSX this week, Cunningham entered a 2:26.395 (90.986 mph).
Rookie Eric Foss, whose World Challenge ride with Tri-Point motorsports comes courtesy of winning the 2008 SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup, ended his first official World Challenge session in sixth.
Toby Grahovec (Acura TSX), Andrew Aquilante (Subaru WRX), Nick Esayian (BMW 328i) and James Clay (BMW 328i) completed the top 10.
-credit: scca pro racing