LAKEVILLE, Conn. (May 24, 2008) – Kuno Wittmer, of Montreal, Que., further enhanced his SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship point lead with a victory Saturday at Lime Rock Park. Polesitter Pierre Kleinubing, of Coconut Creek, Fla., and Chip Herr, of Lititz, Pa., completed the podium for the first of two SPEED Touring Car races at Lime Rock Park over Memorial Day Weekend.
Starting second, Wittmer immediately launched into the lead in the No. 44 Acura/RealTime/Eibach/Red Line Acura TSX as polesitter Kleinubing was left spinning his tires at the line. Once Kleinubing got away, he slotted into second behind Wittmer and ahead of the No. 97 Tindol Motorsports MAZDA6 of Herr.
“I just had a bad start,” Kleinubing said. “I spun the tires way too long. I felt it was better to keep on going at that time rather than to back off and just make things worse. By the time we got to One, Kuno had the lead by quite a bit already.”
“At the start, I had the right RPM and was able to get off the line,” Wittmer said. “I had a good start and I saw Pierre did spin his tires a little bit, so I had to take advantage of that.”
From there, Wittmer and Kleinubing worked together to pull out a gap on Herr, with Wittmer setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 13 at 58.607 seconds (93.982 mph).“[Kleinubing] was definitely putting pressure on me the whole time and I was trying to pace myself and run the same lap times—just like qualifying, without over-driving the tires,” Wittmer said.
While Wittmer and Kleinubing ran together for the first half of the race, on lap 26, Kleinubing’s engine shut off, requiring him to recycle the ignition and nearly spin in Turn Seven. By the time Kleinubing gathered up the No. 43 Acura/RealTime/Red Line Acura TSX, Kleinubing’s gap to Wittmer had increased to more than three seconds.
“I caught up to him maybe 10-12 laps into the run and all of a sudden, the car shut off in the downhill which is especially not a good spot,” Kleinubing said. “By the time I gathered things up, shut the power off and restarted, I lost quite a bit. That was the end of the race, really, because the car was never the same after that. It didn’t run the same and Chip seemed to be catching me little by little.
“We’ll see what happened with the engine and move on to Monday.”
With Kleinubing unable to mount a challenge on his teammate, Wittmer sailed to 4.323-second margin of victory, leading all 44 laps of the 67.32-mile race, which ran free of yellow flags and averaged a series record 92.834 mph. It was the second race win of the season for Wittmer, who continues to lead the SCCA SPEED Touring Car Drivers Championship by 22 points over Kleinubing (437 to 415).
“It was quite unfortunate when I saw Pierre just back out of it,” Wittmer added. “I knew something had gone wrong. It kind of sucks and it sucks for the team, but he still finished second.
"I’m very, very happy. I’m pleased to be in the points lead. It’s still a long season ahead. These guys here, especially, will definitely be putting the pressure on the entire season. One step at a time and I’m sure that the RealTime crew will definitely get the job done.”
Last year’s Lime Rock Park winner, Herr, ran a quiet and consistent race, starting and finishing third for his first podium of the season, as well as his first podium with Tindol Motorsports in the MAZDA6.
“I had my first good start since I ran with all-wheel drive [in an Audi],” Herr said. “Unfortunately, so did these guys [Wittmer and Kleinubing].
“We had a consistent car. Tindol Motorsports gave me a great car. The MAZDA6 was almost perfect in a third place finish. We’ll look at the data and see if there is anything we can do to improve for Monday.”
A runner-up finisher at Lime Rock Park last year, James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., finished fourth in the No. 29 GMG/Tecmark BMW 325Ci. Sofronas also picked up the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing eight positions from start to finish in his first SCCA SPEED Touring Car race of the season.
Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, Wis., made it three RealTime Acuras in the top five driving the No. 42 Acura/RealTime/Eibach/Red Line Acura TSX. Cunningham remains third in the Drivers Championship behind Wittmer and Kleinubing, with 353 points.
Round Three race winner and standout SCCA SPEED Touring Car rookie Jason Saini (MAZDA6) finished sixth.
James Clay (BMW 325i), Dino Crescentini (Acura TSX), Glenn Bocchino (Acura RSX) and Seth Thomas (BMW 325i) completed the top 10. Thomas had been running fourth, ahead of Sofronas, in the early stages of the race, but ran wide in Turn Two and fell down the order as a result.
Although a blown motor forced rookie Patrick Lindsey to retire from the race, the No. 57 Horton Motorsports/Sloan Securities MAZDA6 driver did take home the Racing Electronics Holeshot Award for advancing five positions on the opening lap.
Now with three wins this season, Acura continues to lead the SCCA SPEED Touring Car Manufacturers’ Championship presented by RACER Magazine with 36 points to Mazda’s 23.
The second half of the SCCA SPEED Touring Car Doubleheader at Lime Rock Park will take place Monday, May 26, at 5:00 p.m. (EDT). Qualifying for the race is scheduled Monday morning at 9:20 a.m. (EDT). Live timing and lap notes are available at www.world-challenge.com.
LAKEVILLE, Conn. - Results from Saturday’s 44-lap, 67.32-mile SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship Round Four race from Lime Rock Park with finishing position, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, laps, distance behind winner and reason out (if any).
1. (2), Kuno Wittmer, Montreal, Quebec, Acura TSX, 44.
2. (1), Pierre Kleinubing, Coconut Creek, Fla., Acura TSX, 44, -4.323.
3. (3), Chip Herr, Lititz, Pa., MAZDA6, 44, -5.016.
4. (8), James Sofronas, Newport Beach, Calif., BMW 325Ci, 44, -10.209.
5. (4), Peter Cunningham, Milwaukee, Wis., Acura TSX, 44, -11.082.
6. (6), Jason Saini(R), Fort Worth, Texas, MAZDA6, 44, -28.407.
7. (10), James Clay, Blacksburg, Va., BMW 325i, 44, -35.738.
8. (11), Dino Crescentini, Malibu, Calif., Acura TSX, 44, -43.266.
9. (12), Glenn Bocchino, Delray Beach, Fla., Acura RSX, 44, -52.648.
10. (5), Seth Thomas, Cumming, Ga., BMW 325i, 44, -57.787.
11. (14), Charlie Putman, Mills, Wyo., MAZDA6, 44, -58.095.
12. (9), Charles Espenlaub, Lutz, Fla., MAZDA6, 44, -1:00.893.
13. (16), Nick Esayian, San Diego, Calif., BMW 325i, 43, -1 lap.
14. (17), Payton Wilson, Chantilly, Va., Lexus IS300, 43, -1 lap.
15. (7), Michael Galati, Olmsted, Ohio, MAZDA6, 39, -5 laps.
16. (13), Jim Daniels(R), Germantown, Tenn., MAZDA6, 37, -7 laps.
17. (15), Patrick Lindsey(R), Santa Barbara, Calif., MAZDA6, 30, Mech.
18. (20), Bill Auberlen, Rolling Acres Est, Calif., BMW 325i, 29, -15 laps.
19. (18), Matt Lang(R), Bedminster, N.J., Acura Intergra R, 19, Mech.
20. (19), Jason Martinelli, Roxbury, Conn., BMW 325i, 4, Mech.
Time of race: 43 minutes, 30.583 seconds.
Average speed: 92.834 mph, Record
Margin of victory: 4.323 Seconds
Lap leaders: Laps 1-44, #44 Kuno Wittmer
Fastest race lap: #44 Kuno Wittmer, 58.607 (93.982 mph)
Fastest qualifier: #43 Pierre Kleinubing, 57.975 (95.006 mph)
Racing Electronics Holeshot Award: #57 Lindsey advanced five positions on lap one
Sunoco Hard Charger: #29 Sofronas advanced four positions from start to finish