'Double Trouble' at The Glen RealTime Acuras 2nd, Then 4th With the completion of Rounds Four and Five at Watkins Glen this weekend, the 10-race 2007 SPEED Touring Car Championship has now reached the halfway point. The best Acura was second...
'Double Trouble' at The Glen
RealTime Acuras 2nd, Then 4th
With the completion of Rounds Four and Five at Watkins Glen this weekend, the 10-race 2007 SPEED Touring Car Championship has now reached the halfway point. The best Acura was second on Saturday and fourth on Sunday.
Pierre Kleinubing's Acura TSX was the highest finishing RealTime player in the top half of the double header, while Kuno Wittmer put his RSX in fourth in the bottom half.
Randy Pobst won both races in his Mazda 6, making the score after five races Mazda: 4, Audi: 1, Acura: 0.
The RealTime boys were looking forward to their visit to Watkins Glen's 3.4-mile undulating circuit, where they won the Touring Car race at the series' most recent visit in 1998. The team's goal of winning its first event of the season was not meant to be; a host of obstacles forced the Acura runners to wait for another day to notch Realtime's 63rd race victory.
In Saturday's event, Kleinubing ran strong in second but in the end, had nothing to show the eventual winner. RealTime leader Peter Cunningham qualified his TSX one spot behind his teammate in fourth, but got picked off one car at a time down the back straight before the braking zone for the 'bus stop'. He settled for a seventh place result.
Next up for RealTime were Brandon Davis and Nick Esayian in 11th and 13th, respectively, who also had difficulty holding off faster cars on the uphill straightaways. Kuno Wittmer suffered a mechanical failure while running behind Kleinubing past the halfway point, and was credited with 20th.
Hopes for Sunday were more optimistic, but the results were disheartening. The pushing and shoving started early and didn't stop until four of the five Acuras were adversely affected.
Cunningham's race for the podium was over a few hundred feet from the standing start, as he suffered a wheel failure in turn one. After a quick stop for a new left front, he had fun working his way back through the pack to wind up 15th.
Esayian made it another three-quarters of a mile to the 'bus stop' before he got a realignment thanks to another aggressive competitor. He soldiered on for a 19th place finish.
Up front, Kleinubing was fighting in the lead pack, when on Lap 12, he was tagged by another car reentering the racing surface. While it didn't appear to be a deliberate move to do any harm to the Acura, the combination of too much speed, shallow entry and four gravel-covered tires was more than its driver could handle, sending the RTR pilot into the tire wall at over 80 mph. Pierre's battered machine headed straight to the pits for repairs and finished one lap down in 21st.
After witnessing this melee directly before him, Wittmer masterfully found his way through and went on to save the day for RealTime with at least one top-five result--a strong fourth. He was only one second out of a podium finish when the checkered flag flew.
With the season now half over, the RealTime Acuras have some work to do to get back into the thick of the points battle, but they're ready for the challenge.
"In our 15 years of World Challenge competition, RealTime has had a number of spectacular seasons, but so far this season, we have been disappointed. We just want to reassure our friends at BMW, Audi and Mazda that we are not about to roll over and lie down," Cunningham commented.
Both Watkins Glen races will air on the Speed Channel on a tape-delayed basis on Saturday, June 30th at 200p and 300p ET.
The SPEED Touring Car Championship will reassemble July 7-8 on the streets of Toronto, Canada's Exhibition Place, its first of two trips to Ontario this year.