LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 26, 2008) – Chip Herr, of Lititz, Pa., led every lap from the pole to capture his fifth career SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge win in Monday’s second half of a SCCA SPEED Touring Car doubleheader at Lime Rock Park. Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, Wis., and Pierre Kleinubing, of Coconut Creek, Fla., completed the podium.
Starting from his fourth-career pole, Herr got the jump off the standing start in his No. 97 Mazdaspeed/Tindol Motorsport MAZDA6 and sped away safely as a melee ensued in Turn One.
As the field stacked up into the braking area, seventh-starting Jason Saini’s MAZDA6 got into the back of third-starting Michael Galati’s MAZDA6, spinning him and collecting a number of cars in the process. While most were able to continue, Galati’s disabled car brought out a full-course yellow and Saini ducked into the pits for repairs.
“Going through Turn One, I looked back and saw my teammate spinning sideways and thought ‘oh boy,’ and just put my mirror up and drove away,” Herr said.
On the restart, Herr got away cleanly, but soon found himself on the rear bumper of the No. 29 GMG/Tecmark BMW 325Ci of James Sofronas, who came into the pits from fifth place to change a flat tire just as the field went green. Herr followed the BMW for several laps before finally bumping past in Turn One. Cunningham was not as fortunate.
“After the restart, I saw [Sofronas] coming out of the pit lane and I had a little bit of a gap on Peter,” Herr said. “I thought he’d go wide so I could duck underneath him, but he stayed there. I’m not going to say [Sofronas] wasn’t fast. He was in a quick car, but there were places he was holding me up and I radioed in to check the rules on lapped cars and the team was talking to me about it so I said ‘okay I’ll just get by him.’ He had a good car, but I got around him.”
Turning laps consistent with the leader, Sofronas held his own before finally moving over to allow Cunningham’s No. 42 Acura/RealTime/Eibach/Red Line Acura TSX past. With the gap from first to second hovering right at one second, Herr and Cunningham matched lap times for the final 12 tours of the 65.79-mile event that was shortened by one lap from 44 to 43 due to a local noise curfew of 6 p.m. He won by 0.891-second.
“With this MAZDA6, I’ve been working really hard on getting it set up,” Herr said. “I had the pole at VIR and that was my mistake in Turn One. My hat’s off to the Tindol Motorsports team. They work really hard and Mazda is helping me out a lot this year. I did not have the fastest car on Saturday, but we went back and looked over data, looked over in-car camera, made some changes and in qualifying the car was literally perfect. It’s probably the fastest weekend I’ve had in the car so far and I’m glad it happened now, because we still have half the season left to go.”
Herr also turned the fastest lap of the race, an even 59 seconds (93.356 mph) around the seven-turn, 1.53-mile circuit.
Cunningham started alongside Herr on the front row and tucked in behind heading into Turn One. While he was in touch with Herr while the pack was behind Sofronas, once Herr moved by the BMW, Cunningham was never within striking distance. Nonetheless, he was pleased with the performance of the team overall in the doubleheader weekend, with four of the six possible podium finishes and a win on Saturday by Kuno Wittmer.
“At first, [Sofronas] was holding up both of us, but then Chip got by and I couldn’t get by for the longest time,” Cunningham said. “In the end, he gave it to me on a platter, because even though I wasn’t hitting him in every corner, he was impeding my way a little bit, especially in the One-Two-Three complex. Once I got by him, I put my head down and just tried to chip away and got closer. But, Chip drove a great race and I didn’t have anything to show him at the end.
“I think the Acuras were in fine form this weekend. They really like this place. Kuno [Wittmer] won Saturday’s race and that was RealTime’s eighth win with World Challenge at Lime Rock Park. So this is certainly a track that the RealTime Acuras enjoy.”
Kleinubing, who finished second in Saturday’s race in the No. 43 Acura/RealTime/Eibach/Red Line Acura TSX, made it back onto the podium Monday in third and cut into teammate Wittmer’s point lead, which now stands at six, 517 to 511.
With the SPEED Touring Car race serving as the final event before the circuit undergoes a major renovation, Kleinubing was reflective of the circuit in which he has scored four wins and three poles.
“I’ll definitely miss [the old Lime Rock Park configuration],” Kleinubing said. “This track has been a huge part of my success in World Challenge. I’ve won a bunch of races here and several poles. There might be a possibility we’ll run again on this configuration and I hope we do.”
Seth Thomas advanced from 10th to fourth in his No. 38 BimmerWorld BMW 325i and earned the Sunoco Hard Charger for picking up six positions in the race.
Wittmer had contact with Sofronas and slid off course in Turn Three on the opening lap, but recovered to finish fifth in his No. 44 Acura/RealTime/Eibach/Red Line Acura TSX.
Bill Auberlen (BMW 325i), Glenn Bocchino (Acura RSX), Jim Daniels (MAZDA6), Sofronas (BMW 325Ci) and Charles Espenlaub (MAZDA6) completed the top 10.
Daniels sliced his way through the first turn incident in his No. 75 Mazdaspeed/Stoptech/Racinghart MAZDA6 to advance eight positions on the opening lap and take home the Racing Electronics Holeshot Award.
Cunningham closed in on both of his RealTime teammates in the points, and sits third, with 461. Herr climbed to fourth in points (423), followed by Thomas (395) in fifth.
Mazda made up ground on Acura in the SCCA SPEED Touring Car Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by RACER. Acura now leads 43 to 32.
Today’s race will be broadcast Wednesday, June 4, at 12 noon (EDT) on SPEED. The series next travels to Watkins Glen International in two weeks time for a race Sunday, June 8. For more information visit www.world-challenge.com.
-30- LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 27, 2008)
- Results from Monday's 43-lap, 65.79-mile SCCA Pro Racing SPEED Touring Car Championship SPEED Touring Car Championship Round Five race, part two of the 2008 Lime Rock SPEED Touring Car doubleheader at Lime Rock Park with finishing position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, laps and reason out (if any).
1. (1), Chip Herr, Lititz, Pa., MAZDA6, 43.
2. (2), Peter Cunningham, Milwaukee, Wis., Acura TSX, 43, -.891.
3. (4), Pierre Kleinubing, Coconut Creek, Fla., Acura TSX, 43, -7.601.
4. (10), Seth Thomas, Cumming, Ga., BMW 325i, 43, -10.815.
5. (6), Kuno Wittmer, Montreal, Quebec, Acura TSX, 43, -13.100.
6. (9), Bill Auberlen, Rolling Acres Est, Calif., BMW 325i, 43, -15.337.
7. (12), Glenn Bocchino, Delray Beach, Fla., Acura RSX, 43, -27.682.
8. (13), Jim Daniels(R), Germantown, Tenn., MAZDA6, 43, -37.907.
9. (5), James Sofronas, Newport Beach, Calif., BMW 325Ci, 42, -1 lap.
10. (11), Charles Espenlaub, Lutz, Fla., MAZDA6, 42, -1 lap.
11. (14), Charlie Putman, Mills, Wyo., MAZDA6, 42, -1 lap.
12. (17), Anthony Serra(R), North Salem, N.Y., Acura TSX, 42, -1 lap.
13. (7), Jason Saini(R), Fort Worth, Texas, MAZDA6, 42, -1 lap.
14. (16), Nick Esayian, San Diego, Calif., BMW 325i, 42, -1 lap.
15. (15), Patrick Lindsey(R), Santa Barbara, Calif., MAZDA6, 40, -3 laps.
16. (8), James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., BMW 325i, 0, Mech.
17. (3), Michael Galati, Olmsted, Ohio, MAZDA6, 0, Crash.
18. (18), Payton Wilson, Chantilly, Va., Lexus IS300, 0, DNS.
19. (19), Matt Lang(R), Bedminster, N.J., Acura Intergra R, 0, DNS.
Time of race: 46 minutes, 48.419 seconds.
Average speed: 84.333 mph
Margin of victory: .891 Seconds
Lap leaders: Laps 1-43, #97 Chip Herr
Fastest race lap: #97 Chip Herr, 59.000 (93.356 mph)
Fastest qualifier: #97 Chip Herr, 58.125 (94.761 mph)
Cautions: One for four laps
Racing Electronics Holeshot Award: #75 Daniels advanced eight positions on lap one
Sunoco Hard Charger Award: #38 Thomas advanced six positions in the race
SCCA SPEED Touring Car Point Standings
Top 10 After Five of 10 Rounds
Pos., Driver, Car, Points (wins)
1, Kuno Wittmer, Acura TSX, 517 (2)
2, Pierre Kleinubing, Acura TSX, 511 (1)
3, Peter Cunningham, Acura TSX, 461
4, Chip Herr, MAZDA6, 423 (1)
5, Seth Thomas, BMW 325i, 395
6, Charles Espenlaub, MAZDA6, 376
7, Jason Saini(R), MAZDA6, 370 (1)
8, James Clay, BMW 325i, 310
9, Charlie Putman, MAZDA6, 261
10, Nick Esayian, BMW 325i, 253
SCCA SPEED Touring Car Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by RACER
After five of 10 Rounds
Pos., Manufacturer, Points (Wins)
1, Acura, 43 (3)
2, Mazda, 32 (2)