ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 31, 2006) – SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car driver Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., wasted little time reintroducing himself to the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, an event he won a year ago, turning in the day’s fast time with a 1:24.034 (77.111 mph) and sweeping both SPEED Touring Car practice sessions Friday in his No. 73 Mazdaspeed/Tri-Point Motorsports Mazda 6. RealTime Racing Acuras took the next two spots as Pierre Kleinubing, of Coconut Creek, Fla., was second fastest on the day, and Peter Cunningham, of Grafton, Wis., was third.-30-
Smoothly navigating the 14-turn, 1.8-mile temporary street course, Pobst turned the first session’s quick time with a 1:24.464 (76.719 mph) in the morning before following that run with the class’ fastest time of the day in the afternoon.
Afterward, Pobst was enthusiastic about his Thursday performance, saying that an adjustment to his Mazda at the year’s first round at Sebring was key in his solid outing in St. Pete.
“I’m in a real good mood! I love being on top of the charts,” Pobst said. “It’s a good ego boost for me and the TriPoint team. I know why we’re there. It’s because we’re handling extremely well. I made a breakthrough at Sebring and it’s paying off here.
“I’ve got the car setup for the tight turns. It will make for some good TV. The car rotates really well around the tight turns.”
Pobst also said that lessons he had learned as an SCCA Solo competitor helped on the street course’s tight curves.
“Street circuits take me back to my Solo and autocrossing roots,” Pobst said. “I’m a Solo guy at heart and street circuits remind me of that with their tight turns all tied together.
“I think some of the road racers are used to seeing curves, whereas here you have a wall here and a wall there and you have to pick those points, almost like pylons in an autocross, or a Solo event. Maybe that helps me, I don’t know. I think I’m really fast in slow corners!”
Kleinubing shaved more than half of a second off of his morning time in the afternoon, but wasn’t able to quite catch Pobst, turning a 1:24.277 (76.889 mph) in his No. 42 Acura Certified Pre-Owned/Realtime Acura TSX.
Reigning SPEED Touring Car Champion Cunningham, running the No. 1 Acura Certified Pre-Owned/RealTime Acura TSX, also improved in the afternoon, going from a 1:25.331 to a 1:24.545 (76.645 mph), which was enough to move from fourth after the first session to third.
Jeff Altenburg, of Ellicott City, Md., was fourth with a 1:24.674 (76.528 mph) in his No. 72 Mazdaspeed/Tri-Point Motorsports Mazda 6, and Eric Curran, of East Hampton, Mass., whose only SPEED Challenge win came on a street course last year in Denver, was fifth in the No. 43 Acura Certified Pre-Owned RealTime Acura RSX with a 1:25.148 (76.102 mph).
Qualifying for Sunday’s Round Two race, part of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, is set for 1 p.m. Friday. The race is scheduled to begin at 12:45 p.m. Sunday and will be broadcast via tape delay on SPEED Channel at 4 p.m. All times are eastern.
To follow qualifying and race action live, visit www.world-challenge.com and use the SCCA Pit Board, which features Live Timing and Scoring Presented by SRT and real-time session notes.