TEAM NEWS: Cunningham’s Acura Wins in Toronto

Photo by John Thawley Wet track helps three RealTime cars into top-five

July 8, 2007 – Toronto, Ontario, Canada Peter Cunningham led all but nine laps today on a wet-but-drying temporary circuit in Toronto, Ontario as the RealTime Acura team scored its first race victory in the 2007 SPEED Touring Car Championship.

Round Six of this competitive series for production-based sports sedans was a part of ChampCar’s Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto. The race was held on a 1.755-mile circuit surrounding Exhibition Place on a track that was drying from recent rain, but all cars elected to start on deep-grooved ‘rain’ tires.

This exciting finish was RealTime’s 63rd race win since 1993, on its 27th different circuit, and its 11th temporary circuit. For Cunningham, the win by :00.538 seconds in his front-wheel-drive Acura TSX over the four-wheel-drive AudiA4 of driver Ian Baas, was the 78th of his professional career, and his 30th in SCCA SPEED World Challenge competition.

Teammate Pierre Kleinubing, who wears the #1 badge on his Certified Pre-Owned Acura-sponsored TSX, emblematic of his 2006 Drivers’ Championship, finished third after starting at the back of the 20-car field. Pierre went from 18th place to ninth on the first lap, and after a lap five restart again continued his climb. He was fifth at the end of lap five, second behind Cunningham on lap 10, then dropped to third on lap 24 after he and Cunningham touched in Turn Six.

First-time pole position winner Kuno Wittmer led the first four laps in his RealTime Acura RSX before falling prey to the treacherous conditions by sliding wide in Turn Three on lap five. After recovering in the 15th position, Kuno methodically sliced his way through the field to fifth—his third top-five result of the season.

Nick Esayian actually pitted after the parade lap and switched to dry tires – a risky gamble he hoped would pay dividends. After tip-toeing through the early stages he mounted a charge and was clicking off quick laps but ran out of time. His RealTime TSX placed ninth after starting 13th.

Brandon Davis made the switch to dry tires on lap 17 but went a lap down and after starting ninth, finished 13th.

With six races done and four to go in the 2007 season, Acura now runs 15 points behind Mazda, which did not place any drivers on the Toronto podium. For the Drivers’ title, Kleinubing trails Mazda drivers Randy Pobst and Jeff Altenburg 198 to 181 to146. Cunningham is fifth with 137, Wittmer sixth at 130 while Davis and Esayian sit 10th and 11th with a respective 80 and 76 points.

The Toronto race will air on the SPEED Channel on a tape-delayed basis on Saturday, July 14 at 1100a EDT.

The SPEED Touring Car Championship will return stateside on July 22 for the Acura Sports Car Challenge of Mid-Ohio, where RTR was the Touring Car winner in 2004 and 2005.

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