BRASELTON, Ga. (April 25, 2004) – Brazilian Pierre Kleinubing put on an impressive driving display winning today’s SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Sport Compact GP at Road Atlanta, as part of the inaugural Drift Atlanta weekend. Polesitter James Clay, of Blacksburg, Va., finished second, while his teammate Matt Richmond, of Mooresville, N.C., finished third.
Driving the No. 42 A-SPEC/RealTime Racing Acura RSX, that he won with at Road Atlanta in October 2003, Kleinubing grabbed the lead from then race leader Clay on lap five and never looked back, winning by 5.068-seconds at an average speed of 94.022 mph. In addition to the win, Kleinubing also set the fastest race lap with a time of 1:36.580 (94.678 mph).
“Clay wasn’t as fast as he was yesterday for some reason,” Kleinubing said. “Once I got the lead, I kept doing what I was doing. I didn’t change a bit. I think he started making mistakes behind me and that’s when I opened up the gap.”
With largest race purse in SPEED Touring Car history on the line, Kleinubing’s win guaranteed him a $10,000 pay day.
It was also a good day for the three-car Bimmerworld team consisting of Clay, Richmond and rookie Seth Thomas, of Cumming, Ga., as they finished 2-3-4.
After Kleinubing grabbed the lead, Clay spent several laps trying not to let the Brazilian drive away from him. But, as the race wore on and the tires on Clay’s No. 36 Bimmerworld BMW 325i began to go away from him, Clay had difficulty staying with him. And, as a result Clay drove to a solid second place performance.
“[Kleinubing] ran me down and ran me over,” Clay said. “He was painting my bumper for a couple of laps. I decided I was going to end up in the wall if we kept this up. I was never able to open a gap up on him. So, I said, ‘Alright go ahead. We’ll do it the other way.’ He started pulling away from me and my tires started going away. And, I could not catch him.”
Richmond, who qualified fourth, had an inauspicious start to the Sport Compact GP as he had to vacate his fourth spot on the grid and start from the back of the field due to mechanical problems on the formation lap. But, it did not take Richmond long to knife his way through the field in his No. 37 Bimmerworld BMW 325i to finish third.
“We had throttle issues we thought we had them licked,” Richmond said of having to start from the back. “No big deal. We just had to settle down and slice through traffic. My hats off to all my competitors who kept it clean. I tried to do the same for them.
“I am proud of my teammates James and Seth. And, I’m just proud of the guys for turning a good weekend.”
In front of the hometown crowd with family and friends in attendance, Thomas not only piloted his No. 38 Bimmerworld 325i to a fourth place finish, but he also won the B&M Holeshot award and was the Sunoco Hard Charger of the Race award winner for advancing 13 positions throughout the race.
Despite being black flagged for jumping the start, Neal Sapp, of Ellicott City, Md., had to put on an impressive driving display to bring his No. 21 TC Kline Racing BMW 325Ci home in fifth.
Chip Herr, of Lititz, Pa., who was running third for much of the race and who looked poised to get his first SPEED Touring Car podium finish, ran into some bad luck when an oil line broke with only two laps remaining.
“Unfortunately, we were running well…in third place,” Herr said disappointingly. “One of the oil lines must have rubbed through another one and caused a little bit of a hole. On the second to the last lap, I started losing oil, so I saved the motor. I drove off the line and came in.”
The SCCA SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship next heads to Lime Rock Park May 29-31, as part of the Mohegan Sun Presents the Lime Rock Park Grand Prix. For more information, including Live Timing & Scoring Presented by Cadillac, visit www.world-challenge.com.
Link to this story: http://www.scca.com/News/News.asp?Ref=TC-rat1-day2