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RealTime Racing has become a staple of the SCCA World Challenge series over the last decade, racing some of the world’s top-bred Acuras to success. Now the team looks poised and ready to reclaim the manufacturer’s championship in the GTS class with their newly-upgraded V6 TSX race cars.
In 2010, RealTime Racing took home the inaugural GTS class Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ championship but last year they had to fend off V8-powered Ford Mustangs. Even though it was a fairly successful campaign with one win, two pole positions, and eight podium finishes, the second place in the manufacturers standings didn’t sit well with the team. In the off-season, RealTime Racing decided to swap out the four-cylinder powerplant in its race car for a more formidable V6.
For the 2012 season, the TSXs will be powered by Acura’s 3.5L VTEC V6 engine, which will give it the power it needs to compete with the likes of the BMW M3, Nissan 370Z, Mitsubishi Evo, Audi TT, and more.
“In order to improve the competitiveness of the TSX in World Challenge, we have moved forward with switching RealTime from the four-cylinder to the V6,” said Lee Niffenegger, Senior Engineer at Honda Performance Development. “Making the switch to the top trim level of our TSX engine line-up will enable RealTime to continue its record-setting performance in the Series, while further establishing this Acura model as one of the most successful in World Challenge history.”
Peter Cunningham, team owner and the winningest driver in World Challenge history, will be back behind the wheel of the number-42 RealTime Acura TSX, joined by teammate Nick Esayian in the number-34 TSX. You can watch the St. Petersburg doubleheader season opener live this weekend.
Earlier this year, we heard word that RealTime Racing would be making the jump to the World Challenge GTS class. And just like that, in what was supposed to be a much more competitive class with even faster cars, RealTime driver and company owner Peter Cunningham has maneuvered his No. 43 RTR Acura TSX all the way to the top yet again. This is Cunningham’s sixth drivers’ championship making him the most decorated driver in World Challenge.
And yes, there is still one event left in the World Challenge Series for the year, but Cunningham and RealTime Racing have been so successful in the GTS class that they can now simply just have some fun in the finale and not have to worry about losing the championship. Cunningham also managed to turn in the fastest GTS lap of the day with a time of 2:09.907 and now has 40 career wins.
So what lies ahead for Cunningham and his RealTime Racing team? We’re not sure, but we’re hoping they find a way to make it even more challenging for the competition and showing off just how refined their racing program truly is.
For those of us who grew up and believing that Honda and Acura were the only “cool” auto manufacturers in the world, RealTime Racing had the coolest of the cool. From NSXs to Integra Type-Rs to RSXs to TSXs, RealTime Racing campaigned some of the most beautifully built touring car racers of the last two decades.
Being 11-time World Challenge Champions is no easy task and it looks like RealTime Racing is looking for a whole new challenge for 2010. “Coming into the new year we had a decision to make: Remove a number of go-fast bits and run in Touring Car, or tune up our TSXs to try and be competitive in GTS,” explained ’08 Touring Car champion Cunningham. “It’s a faster group of cars – anything from other Acuras and Lotus, all the way to big iron like Corvette and Viper.”
Those big sports cars probably won’t to be too popular, however, with the field likely to be dominated by the Acuras and a fleet of BMWs that are expected to make the jump to GTS.
By being able to build on top of an already strong and championship-proven platform, RealTime Racing will once again return as the favorites for us enthusiasts growing up loving all things Honda and Acura. This may just be the excitement we’ve all been waiting for from World Challenge; seeing new-generation Acura TSXs competing against heavy American muscle and other nimble counterparts. The official release from RealTime Racing available after the jump.
We’ll be sure to see how the RTR Acuras compete, with the first race of the season taking place this weekend in St. Petersburg, FL.
[Source: RealTime Racing]
GALLERY: Real Time Racing Acuras
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.
Mazda finished the day at Sebring yesterday with the fastest car during the first practice session ahead of the 2009 World Challenge Touring Car season.
Jason Saini, piloting the Tri-Point No. 74 Mazdaspeed/Stoptech/Racinghart Mazda, posted the best lap time at the end of the day with a 2:25.294 on the 17-turn, 3.7-mile circuit.
“Conditions were a bit variable,” Saini said. “It was damp this morning, but it got better throughout the session. It was hard to learn what the car was really doing in the changing conditions. I was lucky to have a late lap when the conditions were getting better every lap.”
“The team has done such a great job pulling things together in short order. So many people pulled together to make this happen at the last minute. All credit to the team for staying up late all last week and getting these cars together.”
The Tri-Point team of Mazda6′s also claimed 4th and 6th for the day with Charles Espenlaub piloting the No. 73 car and rookie Eric Foss in the No. 75 car taking the respective positions.
Much of the rest of the top 10 was filled with the RealTime Racing Acura TSXs with Kuno Wittmer taking 2nd, Pierre Kleinubing taking 3rd and Toby Grahovec taking 7th. Defending World Challenge Touring Car Champion Peter Cunningham, the only driver piloting a new TSX vehicle, placed 5th.
Finishing out the top ten were Andrew Aquilante and his Subaru WRX in 8th, Nick Esayian in his BMW 328i in 9th and James Clay in his BMW 328i in 10th.
The World Challenge Touring Car Series kicks-off with the opening race this Friday, March 20th .
Full Practice Session results after the jump:
Volvo has returned to pro-racing in North America and will field a team of S60 race cars in the 2009 SPEED World Challenge GT series.
This is no half-assed effort either as Volvo is working with K-PAX/3R Racing. In past years K-PAX has fielded a team of Porsche GT3 Cup cars that have had tremendous success. In fact, K-PAX driver Randy Pobst clinched the Drivers Championship last year.
Volvo has competed in the series in the past, however, the efforts were not wholehearted. The company can, however, lay claim to one particularly impressive win when in 2006 Michael Galati lapped almost every car in the field to race to victory at Mosport International Raceway.
“We’re associated with a great race team, so yes, we have high hopes for a great season,” said Volvo’s Vice President of Public Affairs Geno Effler. “World Challenge fans may ask early on, ‘What’s Volvo doing here?’ Later, we want them to be saying, ‘Wow, that Volvo rocks.’ We expect enthusiasts to see Volvo in a whole new light.”