Home / Auto News / News article: Bimmerworld BMW 328i Clinches Victory at First 2009 Touring Car Race at Sebring - AutoGuide.com News
 |  Mar 20 2009, 2:48 PM

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Seth Thomas, piloting the No. 38 BimmerWorld/GearWrench BMW 328i, jumped into the lead off the standing start during the first race of the 2009 World Challenge Touring Car series and never looked back.

With a qualifying run that landed him in 2nd, Thomas used the BMW’s rear-drive advantage to get a quick lead on pole-sitter Pierre Kleinubing in the front-drive RealTime Acura TSX and after just three laps had put just over a second between the two cars.

“I didn’t expect that kind of advantage going into Turn One,” Thomas said. “The BMWs have rear-wheel drive and they launch really well off the start. Pierre [Kleinubing] has a lot of experience starting up there and I expected him to be tough and get a little better launch. The way it worked out, I went into the brake zone for Turn One and looked in the mirror and saw the gap. I just thought ‘just maintain that and see what we can do.’”

Kleinubing and RealTime teammate Kuno Wittmer attempted to chase Thomas down, but after Whitmer retired due to mechanical problems, the race belonged to the Bimmerworld team, taking the podium 2.563 seconds ahead of the RealTime Acura.

“I’ve been coming here for many years,” Thomas said. “I always had good success at Sebring in the BMW Club stuff I did. Then we came to World Challenge and things went a little haywire. After last year, it’s definitely redemption here. Last year, we should have started on the pole but a technical infraction got us in trouble and we had to start from the back. I felt like this year was going to be the year.

“I keep telling everybody, there’s no words that can describe winning. It’s the best feeling. We’ve worked so hard to get here and it’s finally happened.”

Kleinubing admitted he pretty much lost the race right at the beginning thanks to an overly eager right foot.

“Halfway through first gear I spun the tires pretty badly on the big painted stripe and lost a little bit there from first to second. [Thomas] pulled a huge gap at that point. Every time I’d get a little closer, he seemed to answer and pull it back out. I just did what I could and finished second.”

Kleinubing states that he was eager to get to the next race where he will pilot a brand new TSX. At Sebring, only RealTime owner/racer and defending series champ Peter Cunningham had one of the new TSXs on the track and finished in 9th place after loosing body work in an incedent.

The final podium spot belonged to Jason Saini in the No. 74 MAZDASPEED/Stoptech/Racinghart Mazda6, who was fastest in round one of qualifying and who posted the 5th fastest qualifying time. Saini moved in to 4th after teammate Charles Espenlaub pulled into the pits with a throttle issue on one of the warm-up laps. He gave up that position to another Mazda6 driven by Chip Herr, and then gained it back when Herr’s engine let go.
“To get on the podium after all it took to get here is just great,” said Saini. “I give all the credit to Mazda and Tri-Point for making this all happen as well as some personal sponsors to make this race possible. Hopefully, we can take these results and move them forward to the rest of the season.”

Round Two of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge Touring Car Championship is scheduled for May 1 – 3, at Thunderbolt Raceway in Millville, N.J.

Complete race results after the jump:


Fn
St
#
Driver/Hometown
Car/Sponsor
Pts
Purse
Laps
Gap
Fst Time
Fst Spd
1
2
38
Seth Thomas
Cumming/GA
BMW 328i
BimmerWorld/GearWrench
132
9500
18
2:24.044
92.471
2
1
42
Pierre Kleinubing
Coconut Creek/FL
Acura TSX
Acura/RealTime/Red Line Oil
115
10200
18
-2.563
2:24.403
92.241
3
5
74
Jason Saini
Ft. Worth/TX
MAZDA6
MAZDASPEED/Stoptech/Racinghart
95
6500
18
-4.502
2:24.732
92.032
4
12
75
Eric Foss(R)
Fort Worth/TX
MAZDA6
MAZDASPEED/Stoptech/Racinghart
85
5300
18
-10.946
2:24.649
92.085
5
7
34
Nick Esayian
San Diego/CA
BMW 328i
BimmerWorld/GearWrench
80
2000
18
-19.290
2:24.986
91.871
6
8
36
James Clay
Blacksburg/VA
BMW 328i
BimmerWorld/GearWrench
76
1300
18
-19.735
2:24.695
92.055
7
10
95
Michael Galati
Olmsted/OH
Mazda6
Mazda North America/Tindol
72
1200
18
-35.289
2:25.652
91.450
8
11
35
Andrew Aquilante
Phoenixville/PA
Subaru WRX
Phoenix Performance Inc.
68
1100
18
-37.278
2:25.189
91.742
9
9
1
Peter Cunningham
Milwaukee/WI
Acura TSX
Acura/RealTime/Red Line Oil
64
3000
18
-44.908
2:24.980
91.874
10
14
45
Jeff Courtney
Slinger/WI
Acura TSX
Acura/RealTime/Red Line Oil
60
2900
18
-1:03.289
2:27.366
90.387
11
13
43
Toby Grahovec
Chicago/IL
Acura TSX
Acura/RealTime/Red Line Oil
57
800
18
-1:03.566
2:26.655
90.825
12
4
73
Charles Espenlaub
Lutz/FL
MAZDA6
MAZDASPEED/Stoptech/Racinghart
60
700
17
-1 lap
2:26.488
90.929
13
3
44
Kuno Wittmer
Montreal/QU
Acura TSX
Acura/RealTime/Red Line Oil
60
600
9
Mech.
2:24.234
92.350
14
6
97
Chip Herr
Lititz/PA
Mazda6
MAZDASPEED/Tindol Motorsports
48
550
5
Mech.
2:24.409
92.238