LAKEVILLE, Conn. (July 2, 2005) – Turner Motorsports’ Bill Auberlen, of Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., watched two full-course cautions wipe out two of his sizable leads during Saturday afternoon’s SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car race. He never faltered, however, and went on to Round Six, part of the New England Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park. Tri-Point Motorsport’s Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., was 1.875 seconds behind Auberlen, followed by RealTime Racing’s Eric Curran, of South Deerfield, Mass.-30-
Driving the No. 1 Turner Motorsports/H&R Springs BMW 325i, Auberlen jumped out from his Air Force Reserve Pole Position to build a lead of 2.249 seconds after six laps, thanks in part to his UrbanRacer.com Hot Lap time of 57.778 seconds (95.953 mph) on lap five, overcome a pair of full-course cautions and claimed his fifth series victory at Lime Rock Park – an SCCA SPEED World Challenge record for victories at a single venue.
“Five wins at any track is great,” Auberlen said. “Shoot, I’ll take them anywhere I can get them. There are some places the car looks extra special, and this and Sears Point are the two that make it look really good.”
Early on, it looked as if Auberlen would run away with the sixth round race as he continued to build his advantage to 4.649 seconds by lap 13. Then, on lap 14, the first of two full-course cautions emerged to retrieve Scott Bradley’s Circuit City Mazda from the tire wall after contact with Ryan Pilla, bringing the field back to the leader.
The second caution occurred five laps after the course went green, caused by a multi-car incident that earned four cars an early exit. The incident was triggered when Seth Neiman’s BMW and another car made contact at the uphill, with Neiman sliding off course, causing a chain reaction of cars checking up and spinning off. The BMWs of Seth Thomas, of Cumming, Ga., and Jason Martinelli, of Woodbury, Conn., received the most damage. Additionally, Neiman and Charles Espenlaub’s Mazda were eliminated.
Six laps later, the course went green and finished that way, with Auberlen never seriously challenged.
After the race, Auberlen said keeping his concentration during the up-and-down tempo race proved a worthy challenge.
“You can very easily over-drive the first part of this track,” Auberlen said. “You can get too caught up in trying to attack, you can blow turn one, then wreck turn two and blow turn three. You have to stay very precise.”
Pobst, who started second in the No. 73 Mazdaspeed/Tri-Point Motorsport Mazda 6, but had to battle back after falling to fifth at the start, said that the cautions would have been nice in previous events, but they really didn’t help him Saturday.
“I would have killed for yellows in the last two races,” Pobst said. “I really didn’t want them here. I think I had a car that would have been really good on a long run.
“Billy [Auberlen] was really strong this weekend, as expected. I saw that coming for a couple of months after I saw how well he was running his car through the corners at Sebring, and Lime Rock is a cornering track.
“For me, personally,” the Mazda driver continued, “the primary objective coming in was to beat the Acuras. And I’m really glad to have accomplished that goal. Now I just have to continue with some more good finishes.”
Curran, in the No. 45 A-SPEC/RealTime Racing Acura RSX, said local knowledge of the track and a good car were key to his podium finish, which equaled his career best.
“Local knowledge is important for sure,” Curran said. “In SPEED World Challenge, it doesn’t take very long for these drivers to figure things out.
“We’ve been working hard to get the RSX up to speed with the TSX,” Curran continued. “The whole RealTime crew has been working hard, they’ve been doing this for a long time, they know their stuff and it’s fun to be a part of it. I appreciate Peter Cunningham bringing me on board. It’s fun to race with him, Pierre Kleinubing and the rest of the gang.”
Nic Jonsson, of Buford, Ga., finished fourth in the No. 27 Tasker Products/Tecmark Autosport BMW 325Ci after a fantastic run off the second restart boosted him forward, and Kleinubing, of Coconut Creek, Fla., wound up fifth in the No. 43 A-SPEC/RealTime Racing Acura TSX.
Cunningham finished sixth in the No. 43 A-SPEC/RealTime Racing Acura TSX, and with the finish maintained his lead in the SPEED Touring Car Drivers’ Championship.
His 157 points leads Kleinubing’s 148, who is trailed by Jeff Altenburg (136), Curran (123) and Pobst (119).
Jon Prall, of Los Gatos, Calif., earned both the B&M Holeshot Award (for passing 10 cars on the first lap) and the Sunoco Hard Charger Award (for advancing 17 positions to finish 12th after starting 29th).
Acura leads the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by RACER Magazine with 48 points, followed by Mazda (38), BMW (29) and Ford (1).
The SPEED Touring Car race will be broadcast on SPEED Channel on Sunday, July 3, at 4 p.m. (EST). The series next travels to Infineon Raceway July 15-17 for Round Seven of the Championship.
For more information, visit www.world-challenge.com.
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