Pierre Kleinubing led the RealTime Acura team this weekend with his first SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship checkered flag since the 2008 season opener. In the 16 races since then, the four-time Touring Car champion has stood on the podium an impressive 10 times, just not on the top step. The win, the second for the all-new 2009 Acura TSX, was not only timely, but also hugely popular, because of the large contingent of friends and family in attendance at Road America, RealTime's home track.
Peter Cunningham finished sixth on the day, missing the top-five for the first time in six races. Woodhouse Performance team owner and semi-retired Dodge Viper driver Bob Woodhouse made his Touring Car debut, and drove an RTR Acura TSX to a ninth place finish. Mosport victor Kuno Wittmer's day started with great promise until a mid-race mechanical problem dropped him to tenth.
The RealTime team was optimistic after the coin toss inverted the fast five qualifiers, moving Wittmer from fifth to the pole while Kleinubing maintained the third position. Right after the start, Kleinubing maneuvered into second place behind Wittmer in turn one. The two RTR drivers prepared to battle it out for the duration, switching positions on Lap 5, but an electrical glitch sent Wittmer to the pits two laps later.
Kleinubing lost his wing-man, but not the race. He battled on, holding off fast qualifier Charles Espenlaub's Mazda for a well-deserved 28th World Challenge Touring Car win.
Coming from seventh on the grid, Cunningham battled with Eric Foss' Mazda for the sixth place spot throughout the race, with unrelenting heat from the BMWs of James Clay and Seth Thomas just behind.
Woodhouse was on a steep learning curve with the handling of the TSX, 'I really have to hand it to those guys, it takes a lot of skill to maneuver a front-wheel drive car and get the speed that they do.' Woodhouse kept pace but was unable to gain on the leaders.
Wittmer returned to the track after his pit stop, but was also unable to make headway in the field. He did, however, make an appearance in the World Challenge GT race the following day. Things were looking up for Wittmer who qualified for the second place start on the grid in a Woodhouse Performance Dodge Viper. Wittmer grabbed the lead from the standing start and was running strong when another mechanical issue forced him back to the pits, this time a broken wheel bearing prevented him from finishing the race. Wittmer refused to let things get him down, 'There were highs and lows to this weekend; that's racing.'
Although the pole went to Mazda, the win from Kleinubing closes the gap in the Manufacturers' Points Race. Mazda retains the lead with 61, Acura is in second with 59, and BMW is in third with 27. In the Drivers' Race, Jason Saini remains in first with 824, Kleinubing overtakes second place with 778 and Cunningham drops to third with 736. Wittmer's misfortune bumps him down a spot to sixth with 663.
Catch Kleinubing's exciting victory on the SPEED channel on September 11 at 2:00p EDT.
Having now completed three events in a four week period, the World Challenge teams now have five weeks to prepare for the penultimate round of the 10-race season. Round Nine will be a part of the Petit Le Mans week at Road Atlanta, on September 22-25. RealTime drivers have captured nine checkered flags at this challenging 2.5-mile rollercoaster, so the team looks forward to the opportunity to gain ground in both points championships.
The RealTime Acura team is sponsored by Acura, Acura Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles, Red Line Oil, Eibach Springs, Sparco, Hawk Performance, Brembo, A-SPEC, BOSCH, Total Auto Body, PACT and A-YES.