Alton, Virginia (Sept. 13, 2010) - In a thrilling day of World Challenge Championships action during the VIR Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway, Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., shook a frustrating season with a GT win, Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, Wis., extended several series records in GTS including his sixth Drivers’ Championship and Todd Buras, of Melbourne, Fla., capped a four-for-four season in Touring Car. The K-Pax Volvos and Real Time Racing Acuras (all of which run Red Line Synthetic Oil and lubricants) earned a place in history with GT and GTS championships following an incredible season of racing.
GTS: Real Time Racing Acura
Rounds 10 and 11 of the World Challenge Championship took place at the demanding Virginia International Raceway, and theRealTime Acura brigade put the icing on the cake that is their 2010 season. With Acura having already been crowned the GTS Category Manufacturers' Champions, it was a shootout between drivers Peter Cunningham and Nick Esayian for the Drivers' title.
With only one event remaining in the 12-race championship after the conclusion of the VIR weekend, Esayian knew he had to score as many points as he could to keep his title hopes alive. Cunningham's Acura TSX had led Round 10 from the standing start, but was slowed due to a rare mechanical glitch on the final lap, within sight of the checkered flag. His day was still salvaged with a fourth place result.
Esayian's matching RealTime Acura was wrapped up in a race-long battle with Ernie Jakobowski's Porsche Cayman in treacherous conditions. As the rain began to gently fall about mid-way through the 21-lap contest, all the World Challenge drivers did their best to stay on the road. In the end, Esayain crossed the line in lockstep with Jakobowski, but the Acura driver was declared the winner when the Porsche was determined to have a noncompliant ride height.
RealTime fielded a third Acura TSX over the weekend for Tommy Sadler. Sadler's regular day job is Crew Chief for the Flying Lizards, the highly successful American Le Mans team of Porsche 911s. In Sadler's World Challenge debut, he kept his nose clean despite the challenging track conditions and finished an impressive third place in the RTR Acura TSX!
When the World Challenge cars qualified on Sunday morning for Round 11, the skies were sunny and the ambient temperature was not yet boiling. Cunningham laid down a lap slightly quicker than he had in qualifying on Saturday to take his 41st career pole position. As the race got underway, the teams faced hot and sticky conditions on a track that didn't feel that much grippier than it did when it was sprinkling the day before.
Cunningham led the GTS field into the first corner, with Esayian close behind in second. With his sixth World Challenge Championship on the line, Cunningham inched away from Esayian and all the rest, his only scare coming late in the going when a full course caution erased his sizable lead. After the restart, the order didn't change, and Cunningham earned enough points to ice the 2010 GTS Drivers' Championship.
Esayian finished second, his ninth top-three result in the 11 races held thus far. With this weekend's victory and second place results, Esayian is assured of finishing second to Cunningham in the 2010 points tally. Sadler's run on Sunday started out on the wrong foot when he got caught up in a tussle on the way to the first corner. With the right side of the car looking quite disheveled, he limped around the 17-turn, 3.27-mile circuit for a pair of right side tires and a few hammer hits and returned to fray, albeit one lap down from the leaders.
The RealTime Racing team is sponsored by Acura Motorsports, Acura Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles, Red Line Oil, Eibach Springs, Sparco, Hawk Performance, Brembo, A-SPEC, BOSCH, and Total Auto Body.
GT: K-PAX Volvo
The K-PAX Racing Volvo S60s finished first and second in the second race at the VIR Grand Prix, resulting in the 2010 GT Drivers' Championship for Randy Pobst and the Manufacturers' title for Volvo.
Andy Pilgrim took advantage of his pole position start, built a large lead in the number 8 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60 and took the victory, his first of the season. Not too far behind was team mate Randy Pobst, who finished second in the number 6 K-PAX Volvo after starting the race from the third position. James Sofronas finished third in a Porsche 911 GT3.
Andy started from the pole position in the number 6 K-PAX Racing Volvo S60, and led all 22 laps. At one point midway through the race, his lead grew to 5.808 seconds over second place. The final margin of victory was 1.392 seconds.
"I want to dedicate this win to Jeremy Smallwood, my crew chief. With so much pressure on himself, he never had a bad attitude about anything. It meant so much to him, he was very emotional after the race and I knew he would be because he cared so much," a thrilled Andy said.
Andy's victory came in a car from last season that was pressed into duty for both qualifying and the race on Sunday, due to the length of time needed to make repairs on the current car. The 2009 car had not been tested and had essentially been out of service since the end of last season.
"I had to run hard. The thing we potentially could've had an issue with was the set-up on the car. The handling started to go away a little bit and Kuno Wittmer was absolutely coming. There was no way I could have stopped him, he would have had me. He was faster at that point in the race. Then, unbelievably, with 6 or 7 laps to go, Kuno went off at Oak Tree (turn 12)."
Andy's teammate Randy Pobst began the race from the number three position on the grid, and moved up to second on the opening lap. Wittmer pressured Randy in the opening laps, and finally got by on lap 7 before his off track excursion on lap 13 shuffled him back to third. Once Randy regained the second position, he held it for the remainder of the race to clinch the Drivers’ Championship in the GT class.
"I'm thrilled, absolutely thrilled. As a team we're climbing a mountain, and the mountain is rocky and you slip and fall back, and you have to struggle to get back up. Today we're standing on the top. Here's what it came down to today: we didn’t make mistakes and our competitors did."
Randy, with four wins this season, is the 2010 GT Champion. He is now 212 ahead of second place James Sofronas and is 218 points ahead of third place Kuno Wittmer. Volvo is the 2010 GT Manufacturer Champion. With one race remaining it is 12 points over Porsche and 35 ahead of Dodge.
The World Challenge Series concludes its 21st season at Miller Motorsports Park, near Salt Lake City, on October 1-3.
A two-hour broadcast that will highlight the VIR weekend's races will air on VERSUS on October 30th at 3:00p Eastern. The special two-hour season recap show will also feature the Miller finale race.